Thursday, November 17, 2011

a little bit about me

I have had a fever of viral origin for over a week, continuously. This morning I woke up fever free, but found that I could not blink or close my left eye. I had a dentist appointment, and he found weakness of my cheek, eyelid, and lip muscles on the left side when grimacing, smiling, puckering, and squinting. I had no right-sided weakness on the rest of my body. My eye is very dry from not blinking, and I also discovered that I cannot taste anything on the top or left side of my tongue. What I can taste on the right side has a strong metallic aftertaste.

I'm lucky that it's mild enough that I don't look completely odd, I can still make facial expressions with just a bit of droop or stiffness on the left side. Such a mild case should be totally resolved in two weeks. I'm on an antibiotic in case an infected tooth nerve root led to the inflammation, but it was probably the virus with the high fevers.*update* A family friend just happens to be a facial paralysis specialist. She started me on a steroid burst and antiviral.

From The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

What is Bell's Palsy?

Bell's palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from damage or trauma to the facial nerves. Each facial nerve directs the muscles on one side of the face, including those that control eye blinking and closing, and facial expressions such as smiling and frowning. The facial nerve also transmits taste sensations from the tongue.

What Causes Bell's Palsy?

Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis. Exactly what causes this damage, however, is unknown. Most scientists believe that a viral infection such as viral meningitis or the common cold sore virus—herpes simplex—causes the disorder. They believe that the facial nerve swells and becomes inflamed in reaction to the infection, causing pressure within the Fallopian canal and leading to ischemia (the restriction of blood and oxygen to the nerve cells). In some mild cases (where recovery is rapid), there is damage only to the myelin sheath of the nerve. The myelin sheath is the fatty covering-which acts as an insulator-on nerve fibers in the brain.

The disorder has also been associated with influenza or a flu-like illness, headaches, chronic middle ear infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, sarcoidosis, tumors, Lyme disease, and trauma such as skull fracture or facial injury.

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