What are the Differences Between Bell’s Palsy vs Stroke?

by Sep 13, 2021Systemic Disease

A drooping face, especially on only one side, is a common sign of both Bell’s Palsy and a stroke, or cerebrovascular accident.

These conditions are similar but caused by different things and treated in using different methods.


Role of the Optometrist

An optometrist can be among the first health care providers to detect early changes that can be characteristic of Bell’s Palsy or a stroke.

Slight facial drooping or a small eyelid droop may go unnoticed until a comprehensive eye exam.

In some cases of both Bell’s Palsy and a stroke, the main symptoms following the onset of the palsy can be regarding vision or the eyes.

These symptoms include a drooping eyelid, an irritated eye, or vision changes.

An optometrist is also an important member oft the recovery and rehabilitation team for patients with a stroke or Bell’s Palsy.


Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy

A Bell’s Palsy is a characteristic set of signs and symptoms that are caused due to damage to nerves of the face and head.

Symptoms are typically related to the drooping of the face and mouth and can include slurred speech, visible drooping, an asymmetric smile, obstructed vision, and dry eyes.

In cases of Bell’s Palsy, an entire side of the face is affected from the forehead to the chin.

This side of the face has lost innervation and will droop or sag without the ability to voluntary move along with the other side of the face.


Symptoms of a Stroke

A stroke is also known as a cerebrovascular accident because it involves the blocking or rupture of blood vessels in the brain.

The lack of blood flow causes the nerves in the brain that innervate the face to stop functioning appropriately.

The symptoms of a stroke are drooping of the cheeks or mouth, slurred speech, and an asymmetric smile.

Additionally, many strokes have symptoms that are not isolated to the face.

Other symptoms can include loss of function of one arm or leg, loss of vision on one side, headaches, or difficulty with swallowing.


Causes of Bell’s Palsy vs Strokes

A stroke is caused by a specific, traumatic incident that affects the nerves in the brain. This event may be that a blood vessel was blocked, and the tissues were without oxygen or that a blood vessel ruptured, and the tissues were unable to get blood properly.

Bell’s Palsy, however, does not have a known cause and is associated with several forms of inflammation in the head. Whatever the cause, all Bell’s Palsy cases are grouped by the set of specific symptoms associated with damage to the nerves of the face.


Differences between Bell’s Palsy and a Stroke

Despite sharing many symptoms and characteristics, Bell’s Palsy and strokes are entirely different medical conditions.

The most noteworthy differences are the fact that a stroke can affect the body beyond the face and head, the fact that a stroke typically only affects the lower half of the face, and the fact that a stroke has a known, identifiable cause.


Treating Bell’s Palsy and Strokes

Bell’s Palsy will typically resolve within weeks with some treatment and all function will be regained once the inflammation that was causing damage to the nerves is treated.

A stroke, however, results in much more permanent damage to the nerves and will take much longer to recover from and all of the function that was lost may not be regained.


When to See Your Eye Doctor

If you suspect that you are showing signs or symptoms of either Bell’s Palsy or a stroke it is important to visit a doctor right away.

Early detection and treatment of both conditions provides the best possible outcomes.

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Our eye doctors at Nittany Eye Associates excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists if you would like to learn more about the differences between Bell’s Palsy vs stroke.  Be sure to visit Nittany Eye Associates where we always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.


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