You'll likely start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a neurologist.
It's good to prepare for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing. Be sure to include any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information. Have you had any major stresses or life changes recently? Sharing this type of information may help your doctor to make a diagnosis.
- Make a list of all medications. Include the dosage amount of any medications you're taking, and don't forget to write down any vitamins or supplements that you're taking, too.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions you want to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For Bell's palsy, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is this condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available for Bell's palsy? Which do you recommend?
- Are there alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask any additional questions that occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Be prepared to answer questions from your doctor, such as:
- When did you begin having symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Have any of your relatives ever had Bell's palsy or problems with facial paralysis?
What you can do in the meantime
If you have facial pain:
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can help with pain.
- Apply moist heat. Putting a washcloth soaked in warm water on your face several times a day may help relieve pain.
If your eye won't close completely, try these tips:
Mar. 27, 2012
- Use your finger to close your eye repeatedly throughout the day.
- Use lubricating eyedrops.
- Wear eyeglasses during the day to protect your eye.
- Wear an eye patch at night.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Bell's palsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/detail_bells.htm. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Prognosis and treatment in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Bell's palsy. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/neuro-ophthalmologic_and_cranial_nerve_disorders/bells_palsy.html?qt=&sc=&alt= . Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Numthavaj P, et al. Corticosteroid and antiviral therapy for Bell's palsy: A network meta-analysis. BMC Neurology. 2011;11:1
- Van der Veen EL, et al. A small effect of adding antiviral agents in treating patients with severe bell palsy. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. In press. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- McAllister K, et al. Surgical interventions for the early management of Bell's palsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(2):CD007468. http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.