November 04, 2010,
K.L. asks from Orland Park, IL on November 03, 2010
Bell's Palsy in Pregnancy
I was having a great pregnancy when at 8 months I got hit with Bell's Palsy. Supposedly, it comes on fast from what I have read but mine came on over the course of 2 weeks (it was initially thought I had an ear infection) and today I woke up and noticed that my face seems even more paralyzed than it was yesterday. The pain is worse at night and I have to take tylenol with codeine in order to get sleep at night. I have heard that pregnancy can bring on this condition in the 3rd trimester typically and that sometimes it doesn't go away until after you give birth. Has anyone else had this condition during pregnancy and did anything help? Did it resolve before labor and birth? Is there some kind of specialist that specializes in Bell's Palsy--what kind of doctor would be the most knowledgable and experienced with this condition? I started seeing a good chiropractor for it this week. BTW: Please don't tell me anything too scary--really I'm only looking for helpful and experienced answers--I'm pregnant and freak easily! Thanks! :-) God bless P.S. I'm making sure to eat a high protein diet in order to prevent pre-eclampsia. So far I'm very healthy other than the Bell's Palsy with good blood pressure and no pre-eclampsia or anything.
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So What Happened?™
I got group prayer (in the name of Jesus Christ) at my baby shower and my Bell's Palsy started clearing up the next day. It continued to get better and better everyday and at the end of two weeks I was healed. What a gift! Everywhere I read online I heard everyone say the same thing: It doesn't clear up until after you give birth. Well, I got it when I was 8 mo pregnant and after 5 weeks it was gone. No more pain, no more tylenol, no more sleepness, agonizing nights. PRAISE GOD! I had a healthy baby boy on December 15th, 2010 and I was in good health at the home birth. :D
C.T. answers from Denver on November 03, 2010
Hi KL - I had Bells Palsy that came on pretty quickly about 3 weeks before I delivered. It's shocking and horrible isnt it???
I always struggle with full ears and sinus pain so mine could very well have taken a while to come on too. I first noticed it when I was brushing my teeth and couldnt purse my lips to spit. I went to the chiropractor with no results. My next appt was with a neurologist who tested me to diagnose Bells Palsy and not something more serious like Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Bells Palsy is a result of the 8th facial nerve (the nerve that exits right in front of your ear) gets constricted because of inflammation. It's common at the end of pregnancy because blood volume is significantly higher then - it is also readily associated with a virus like Herpes I or II settling in the nerve.
There's not going to be much you can do except to treat the pain - I had most of my pain in the boney area behind my ear. I found that alternating cold and hot compresses helped me. I was thankful that I could close my affected eye but the rest of that one whole side of my face was completely numb and immobile.
I did a lot of reading about treatments - since you are pregnant and time has already passed, antivirals are out unfortunately. Steroids are often given as a treatment but there appears to be some dispute over whether or not they work or justify the risk of high doses of steroid. I have a medical condition that required me to have IV steroids administered during delivery and afterwards. It may be anecdotal, but my face started easing in the hour or so after the first dose. It was small but I could twitch the corner of my mouth on that side and felt some tingling in my cheek and it kept getting better after that.
The neurologist was spot on about healing time and permanent damage. After 4 weeks people said I looked back to normal - my smile was straight etc. It took a good 6-8 weeks before I felt more normal. I still have some facial weakness and numbness although no one else can see it. I get a numb feeling of fullness in my cheek and and along the lash line in my eyelid and I have to think about what I'm doing to purse my lips.
The majority of the time I am completely a-symptomatic.
It's REALLY hard and I completely understand. I felt so incredibly disappointed and self-conscious. It was a big blow to my self-esteem and I just wanted to hide. As if being as big as a bus and ready to deliver werent bad enough - this had to get added into the mix.
I'm so glad to hear that you are healthy and that your baby is healthy. Before long this will all just be a distant memory compared to the beautiful love being added to your family.
All the best -
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A.S. answers from Bloomington on November 04, 2010
It is horrible, I know. Luckily it isn't a lifelong ailment. I got it when my baby was 8 weeks old. I used steriods and some anti-viral meds and then went to physical therapy. Mostly they taught me to tap my facial nerve to "wake it up". My case wasn't too severe, mostly healed by 6 weeks. I thought mine was an ear infection too, but the pain was behind my ear. After I went to the doctor, I got home and my face was drooping, it was scarey! Sleeping was the worst, not being able to close my eye, good training for your upcoming baby!! Smiling was hard too, my kids made fun of me!! We tried to keep it light and make the best of it. Best of luck and I hope you have a quick recovery!
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A.P. answers from Eugene on November 03, 2010
My brother-in-law had it (obviously not during pregnancy), but it went away fairly quickly (he got while he was visiting his now wife's family for the first time...!) Anyway, no lingering effects and who knows why he got it. By the way, had preeclampsia my first pregnancy and ate much more protein this time and avoided it!
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J.G. answers from Springfield on November 04, 2010
I got Bell's Palsy when I was 8 months pregnant. It was so weird, because I could feel my whole face, but I couldn't move half of it. The worst part was the ear pain. I chose to take the steroids, and I think they helped. The reality was, I just had to wait it out. I would say it was about 75% gone after my son was born. I still had weak muscles and a crooked smile for a month or so. Now, (more than 4 years later) I can see a slight crookedness to my face, but most people don't. Those with a knowledge of Bell's Palsy often notice if the subject comes up. When I'm tired, I tend to have a droopy eye lid, and the asymmetry is a little more pronounced. I think the fact that you can kind of notice mine 4 years later is unusual. Most people don't have that.
Good luck! More than anything else the ear pain stinks and the droopy faceis annoying, but it will go away.
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P.M. answers from Portland on November 03, 2010
My husband had a bad case of BP ten or so years ago (obviously NOT connected with pregnancy). After a couple of months, he had shown no improvement on medication, If I remember correctly, he was given cortisone to reduce inflammation around the nerve. I convinced him to see my acupuncturist.
After just one or two treatments, the nerve started coming back, and continued to improve for a couple of weeks until he was able to smile, pucker up, and blink his eye. He still has some mild aftereffects, like chewing food causing his eyelid to flutter, but it's hardly noticeable.
If you were to ask him, a scientific skeptic, he'd say no, the acupuncture didn't help. But I watched his condition staying static for about 12 weeks, and then sudden improvement and almost complete recovery after acupuncture. Take that information and do with it what you will! If you do go with acupuncture, look for someone with lots of experience.
By the way, my acupuncturist said the likelihood of recovery is best when the condition is treated early. She was pleased, and maybe a little surprised, that my husband got as much improvement as he did.
I wish you a quick recovery.
M.H. answers from Atlanta on November 03, 2010
Make sure you are on an ABSORBABLE multivitamin. Most prenatals only absorb about 20-40 percent at best. You need something better. I can recommend one if you like. Also, chiropractic care is great for the immune system. If you don't have a family chiropractor go to upcspine.com and look one up in your area. This site is specifically for an upper cervical specialist. L-Lysine is a enzyme that the body normally produces. During pregnancy or an illness the body is depleted of it. You can supplement it (replace what is supposed to already be in your body) and build your immune system. It is known to fight off other things that are created by the herpes virus.
There are other ways to build the immune system as well. If you're interested I'll be glad to go deeper into this subject for you.