The seventh cranial nerve runs through a narrow gap of bone from the brain to the face. The nerve is responsible for controlling the majority of muscles in the face and ear. Inflammation of the facial nerve results in pinching between the bone gap, damaging the protective sheath around the nerve.
When the nerve sheath degrades, and the raw nerve is exposed, signals from the brain to the face are disrupted, resulting in weak or paralyzed facial muscles. This condition is known as Bell’s Palsy. Individuals afflicted with Bell’s experience a sudden onset of symptoms that intensify over the course of a few days. The signs are sometimes confused with those of a stroke or brain embolism.
Tightness in the muscles around one side of the face, along with an inability to control the facial muscles is often the first sign of the disorder. This disorder progresses into partial muscle paralysis in the face accompanied by involuntary twitching.
The exact cause of the inflammation to the seventh cranial nerve is still unknown to medical science. However, medical experts have some agreement in the fact that the inflammation may be due to the presence of a viral infection. Here are 9 strange causes of Bell’s palsy that may play a role in developing the disorder
1. Herpes Simplex
HSV is a viral inflammatory disease that could be a precursor to the development of Bell’s palsy. This contagious, communicable virus spreads through contact with an infected person’s saliva, blood, or body fluids. The virus is most commonly known as the cause of genital herpes or cold sores. Children often contract HSV-1 from contact with an infected adult and carry the virus for the duration of their lives.
HSV-1 spreads through activities like kissing, sharing lip balm, water bottles, and eating utensils. Between 30 to 95% of adults are seropositive for HSV-1, and never experience the manifestation of symptoms. Individuals contract HSV-2 through sexual contact and estimates show that up to 20% of sexually active Americans carry the virus.
Risk factors for contracting HSV include having unprotected sex, sex at a younger age, sex with multiple partners, as well as the presence of another sexually transmitted infection (STI) and a weakened immune system. Pregnant women experiencing an outbreak of genital herpes during birth may pass on both forms of the virus to their child.