‘He looked at me, uncontrolled tears almost coming from one side of his eyes as he looked. He was also chewing gum at the other unaffected side. ‘It is not Stroke my dear, it is facial palsy’. He felt sad as I used the word stroke to describe his condition. ‘

Question: I visited a customer of mine of recent in his office who had been sick for sometimes when I learnt about his resumption back to work. The first thing I noticed when I entered his office was a facial change. I think it was a stroke that affected one side of his face and I was worried for him. ‘How come you had stroke despite your routine exercise’ I had met him severally at the gym before he fell ill. He looked at me, uncontrolled tears almost coming from one side of his eyes as he looked. He was also chewing gum at the other unaffected side. ‘It is not Stroke my dear, it is facial palsy’. He felt sad as I used the word stroke to describe his condition. He was quiet for the better part of my stay.That was the first time I heard ‘facial palsy’ and I didn’t want to further embarrass myself asking him questions. It is better I expose my ignorant on emobileclinic. Please doc, kindly differentiate between a stroke and facial palsy.

Doctors Response: Facial weakness is one of the signs of stroke and Bell’s palsy which makes it a bit confusing to differentiate for anyone outside medical field. They appear to be similar but they aren’t the same and you will be able to tell which is which with the knowledge of the two conditions. It is however very important to memorise signs of stroke because it requires urgent medical attention than Bell’s palsy. Most certainly stroke affects the face and when it does, it is necessary to know what part of the face to look out for so as it not to be misconstrued for Bell’s palsy symptom.

What is Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a facial paralysis which occurs as result of dysfunction of facial nerve causing the inability to control the facial muscles. It affects the eye of one side of the face making it difficult to close. The eye must be protected during this period from drying up as dryness may cause cornea to be damaged leading to an impaired vision. It can occur overnight and the cause on most occasions cannot be identified. It occurs more in adult than in children. Other conditions that can cause facial palsy are; brain tumor, stroke, myasthenia gravis and Lyme disease. Bell’s palsy symptom(facial weakness) can disappear without medication under 10 days and further intakes of corticosteroids hasten the recovery process.

What is Stroke?

Stroke is a case of emergency and it occurs when there is no blood flow into the brain; causing almost immediate death of the brain cell.

The commonest type of stroke

  • Ischemics which happens as a result of clotting of blood that blocks a blood vessel; hindering free flow of oxygen–rich blood.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke happens as a result of leaks of blood or rupture in the artery. The pressure from the leaked blood damages brain cell. High blood pressure and aneurysms are major conditions that can cause hemorrhagic strokes.
  • TIA stokes (Transient ischemic attack) also known as a mini stroke occurs if blood flow to a segment of the brain is briefly interrupted. The damage to the brain cell is not permanent.

Major symptoms of strokes

  • Facial weakness
  • Arm weakness; inability to raise it up
  • Speech problem ; both speaking and understanding what is said
  • Sudden weakness
  • Paralysis(inability to move) of the face
  • Numbness; of the face, arms or legs
  • Trouble seeing with one or two eye
  • Problems with breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden and severe head ache

 

WHAT DIFFERENCIATES STROKE FROM BELL

         FACIAL PALSY CAUSED BY STROKE                                   FALCIAL PALSY BY BELL

Affects the lower part of one side the face excluding forehead Affects one entire side of the face making expression and movement difficult
It doesn’t affect the brow and upper eyelid; it pulls down the lower eyelid due to the weight of the cheek It makes blinking and closing of the eye difficult
Weakness on the hand, arm and leg of one side of the body No weakness of hands and legs the only affected muscle is that of the face
Loss of consciousness and confusion No loss of consciousness and confusion
Eating and drinking may be difficult Food leaks from the weak corner of the mouth
Difficulty in understanding what is being said Understanding isn’t affected
   
   

 

 



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