NOTE: Even though I have worked in the medical field for 21 years typing medical reports for hospitals such as neurological institutes, I am not qualified to give advice, but I can share my own present experiences with Bell's palsy.
June 22, 2021 - I woke up to find something odd about the way my mouth moved. I stuck my tongue out with my mouth closed and my frenulum (that dimple above your upper lip) moved to one side strongly.
As I had no headache, no confusion, no difficulty finding words, and my left arm and leg were working great, I recognized immediately what I was dealing with.
Bell's palsy is an annoying temporary condition that can scare a person for its similar presentation as a stroke. It should be evaluated by a professional as other conditions, such as stroke, could be the explanation.
One side of the face droops with paralysis so that the eyelid on that side cannot close or blink, the eye gets dry, that corner of the mouth droops so that you drool easily.
Within 24-48 hours it hits its worst. For me, most people wouldn't realize I had an issue unless I had to smile or make an expression, then the asymmetry would show. My speaking voice, as well, sounded sputtering like Elmer Fudd. The eye on the left side was droopy so much that the upper lid area was blocking some of my vision.
My mother and sister both had Bell's palsy in the past and so I recognized it quickly. It can tend to run in families, the propensity. I had a week earlier had a cold sore on my lip (a very classic viral culprit). It is extremely rare for me to get these, so I recalled it immediately when I had problems on the same side of the face.
(above - a great template for measuring your recovery)
Celebrities have also had this and are back to happy normal. You can get this at very young ages, as well (more on that and the celebs later in this post)
Here's more info -
Mayo Clinic: Although the exact reason Bell's palsy occurs isn't clear, it's often related to having a viral infection. Viruses that have been linked to Bell's palsy include viruses that cause:
Cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)
Chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster)
Infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)
Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)
German measles (rubella)
Mumps (mumps virus)
Flu (influenza B)
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (coxsackievirus)
The nerve that controls your facial muscles passes through a narrow corridor of bone on its way to your face. In Bell's palsy, that nerve becomes inflamed and swollen — usually related to a viral infection (for me a cold sore on my lip on that side just a week to a few days before). Besides facial muscles, the nerve affects tears, saliva, taste and a small bone in the middle of your ear.
VeryWellHealth: The chances of recovering from Bell's palsy are very good. Many people recover in as soon as 10 days. About 85% of people will recover within three weeks, although recovery can take months in some cases.
Supplements: I chose to do 1000 mg of B12 every other day, zinc, echinachea, multivitamin, and 2000 mg of vitamin c, some turmeric and ginger in warm water with black pepper and some coconut oil. I seek to try to reduce inflammation as much as possible, as quickly as possible, so those were my personal choices.
How long? It helped me to learn that there are about three types of this disorder - each a different degree. A great many are the superficial one that lasts perhaps 3 weeks to a month or so. The next level up can take 3 months to 6 months and the worst can take a year or slightly more to fully recover.
It's funny how only adversity makes you realize what matters.
I was always a healthy kid, couldn't even catch chicken pox when I tried! I was a super athlete into daily hours of freestyle rollerskating, skateboarding, tennis, basketball, swimming, diving, gymnastics....
It seems like massage and hot compresses are the way to go for some time now. I think with this progress, I expect no one to notice I have this issue by Valentine's Day. That will have made it about 8 months total for the whole face, but hey at this point I remind myself that I am progressing. It's different for every person, but it happens. Even the stupid eye will have its day. The smile, oddly seemed to happen almost overnight. That was odd, but welcome.
I have to say that the last months have been excruciating in that, the finer motor movements of the mouth area are very slow, but definitely progressing. Patience is definitely the rule here. I found by doing photos once a week of certain movements, it helps me to realize how far I've come.
This whole thing really had me realizing the things we take for granted. When I speak, my mouth moves tightly and some sounds are still hard, eating is still awkward. I have to put my hand over my mouth to keep food from falling out and moving it around in the mouth is a bit odd. I know with strengthening and practice, I will get there.
I know a lot of doctors don't understand what this condition is like or even exactly why some people get it while others don't, but I would have been relieved to realize a few things.