Donate to Bell’s Palsy Research, Patient Care and Education

Bell’s Palsy is a condition in which damaged or malfunctioning nerves can cause temporary weakness or paralysis of the face, as well as some pain and discomfort. These symptoms are typically isolated to one side of the face, though it can rarely affect both sides. Other symptoms include drooping of the eyelid or mouth, trouble completely closing the eye, excessive tearing, sensitivity to sound, ringing in the ears, and changes to the sufferer’s sense of taste. When you donate to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you are doing more than funding research on Bell’s Palsy; you are providing individuals with this condition a sense of hope.

The symptoms of Bell’s Palsy can resemble those of more serious condition, such as a stroke, that require emergency medical attention. It is imperative to seek immediate medical care if a person experiences weakness or paralysis of the face. Bell’s Palsy, however, is not a serious condition and typically improves after about two weeks. In particular cases, however, the symptoms will not improve, and in these cases, no cure is currently known. You can help work toward a cure by donating to further Bell’s Palsy research with Northwestern Medicine.

Bell’s Palsy is known to affect men and women equally and typically occurs under the age of 60. It is more common in patients infected with the flu or other upper respiratory illnesses, but can also affect people with diabetes or pregnant women. Approximately 40,000 cases of Bell’s Palsy are diagnosed each year in the United States. Your contribution to Northwestern Memorial Foundation can provide the funding to help scientists and physicians at Northwestern Medicine to decrease the number of diagnoses.

The cause of Bell’s Palsy is the inflammation, swelling, or compression of facial nerves.  However, more research is needed to determine the cause and nature of this inflammation. Donations to Northwestern Medicine go toward research to improve our understanding of, and ability to treat, Bell’s Palsy and other illnesses. The prevailing theory as to the cause of the swelling is that it is a result of viral infections such as herpes simplex or viral meningitis. While the research is incomplete, studies have shown possible connections between Bell’s Palsy and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), tumors, sarcoidosis, multiple sclerosis, facial trauma, or exposure to toxins.

Bell’s Palsy cannot be diagnosed with a specific test but, instead, is determined by eliminating other possible conditions, such as a stroke or tumor, that may cause these symptoms. Once a diagnosis is reached, there are tests that can identify the extent of the damage caused by the disease.  When you donate to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, your contribution goes toward finding a specific test for diagnosis, decreasing the chance of damage.

Bell’s Palsy Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

While Bell’s Palsy typically improves after just two weeks without medical attention, it can be a lasting condition that requires treatment. Some of the following treatments may reduce pain and discomfort, including steroids, analgesics, antiviral medications to treat underlying infections, physical therapy, electrical stimulation, acupuncture, and eye drops. Living with a condition that affects the function and the appearance of one’s face can be particularly difficult, especially with no known cure. Your generosity to Northwestern Memorial Foundation allows further research into diagnosing, treating, and finding a cure for Bell’s Palsy, and more importantly, providing a sense of hope for the patients who struggle with it daily. 

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