By Dr. Mercola
Once you begin to develop the symptoms of Bell’s palsy, you will need to visit a neurologist for a proper diagnosis. A neurologist specializes in treating problems concerning the nervous system, and he or she will be able to examine your condition correctly.1
3 Ways Your Doctor Can Diagnose Bell's Palsy
Before preparing to visit the doctor, there are several things you need to take note of that can help your diagnosis:2
• Note the symptoms: Write down any symptoms you have been experiencing that you believe are a result of Bell’s palsy. Try to be as detailed as you can
• Personal information: Any recent developments in your life such as an upcoming important event, recently added stress and other changes that may have affected your health can help your diagnosis.
• Current medications: If you’re taking any medication right now to treat an illness or chronic health condition, let your doctor know so he or she can rule that out as a possible cause of Bell’s palsy.
• Bring a family member: Ask a close relative to accompany you to the doctor to help you remember any other details you may have missed.
Diagnosing Bell’s palsy initially requires a visual examination. Your neurologist will examine your facial muscles and you may be asked to try different exercises to confirm which areas have been affected. Afterward, you will undergo a few other diagnostic tests to help determine the probable cause and rule out other causes or diseases, such as stroke or a tumor. The most common tests are:3
• Electromyography (EMG): This exam assesses the health of your muscles and neurons by using electrodes to detect electrical signals.4
• Blood tests: These tests will be done to check for the presence of bacteria or viruses that may have caused Bell’s palsy.
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): You may be asked to take an MRI exam to check for any possible structural damage in your skull.
Home Remedies to Treat Bell's Palsy
If you’ve been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, you may be surprised to know that most cases do not require treatment at all. There’s a good chance you can fully recover within weeks’ or months’ time. However, that doesn’t mean you should just leave your condition untreated. There are several options you can try to help you manage your condition.
Conventional treatment of Bell’s palsy typically makes use of corticosteroid medication. However, it can have several side effects such as stomach problems, weight gain and increased risk of depression, so it is not recommended.5 Instead, there are several home remedies you can try to help you speed up your recovery, such as:6
• Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is crucial if you have some form of facial paralysis. It can help prevent muscles from weakening and shrinking, helping maintain your facial structure while you recover. A physical therapist experienced in treating patients with Bell’s palsy can help you with various massages and exercises.
• Mime Therapy
This form of therapy involves practicing miming techniques to help improve your recovery. In a study conducted in the Netherlands, patients with facial paralysis who practiced a combination of massages, relaxation techniques and facial expression exercises had a noted improvement in their facial symmetry in just three months.7
• Acupuncture Combined With Vitamin B12 Consumption
Acupuncture and vitamin B12 consumption are two common alternative options suggested when treating Bell’s palsy naturally. In a study published in Neural Regeneration Research, researchers noted that combining the two can help prevent incomplete recovery, as compared to acupuncture alone.8
• Eye Protection
If your condition has affected your ability to close an eye (or eyes) properly, you will need to take measures to make sure your eye doesn’t dry out. Lubrication is important to maintain eye health and keep away infections. To protect your eyes, you can consume foods rich in omega-3 to help maintain hydration, along with using a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist.9
• Diet Rich in Vitamin B
Consumption of foods rich in various B vitamins is generally recommended to help maintain a healthy nervous system, and may even reduce your risk of brain shrinkage and Alzheimer’s disease. Recommended foods include pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish and dark leafy greens.