Did you know that one-sided paralysis of your face happens not only due to Bell’s palsy but also during a stroke? What is the difference between them- one can be life-threatening while the other is not. It is particularly important to know the difference so that you can help someone who needs emergency medical attention and save lives.  

Know the difference between Bell’s palsy vs. stroke in this article. 

Bell palsy and stroke both affect the face muscles and weaken them which results in paralysis and/or drooping of one side of the face.  

Bell’s palsy is caused by swelling and inflammation on the nerves that control that side of the face while a Stroke happens when any blood vessels ruptures and creates blood clots in that area of the brain, making it hard for the blood, oxygen, and nutrients to reach different areas of the brain. Bell’s palsy heals on its own, only in some cases does it require treatment while stroke needs emergency treatment to prevent death, or any disability happens to the patient.  

So, it’s important to know the symptoms of stroke so that you can call for emergency help if someone is having a stroke 


Differences between Stroke and Bell’s palsy 

While the effect they produce on the face and other parts of the body look the same but causes, symptoms, and treatment are all extremely different. 

  •  Bell’s palsy is a condition that makes your face muscles weak and leads to paralysis of one side of the face due to swelling or inflammation of the nerves that control (those parts of) the face.     

Stroke is a condition that happens due to rupture of any blood vessels in the brain, which causes blood clots in the brain to prevent blood and oxygen from reaching brain tissues. 

  • What causes swelling and inflammation is unknown in Bell’s palsy, but researchers think it happens mainly due to viral infections (such as the herpes virus, influenza, mumps, etc.).  

In case of stroke, blood clots form in the small/narrow arteries that over time were blocked by fatty deposits (called plaques). Other causes such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, hyperglycemia, diabetes, tobacco, etc. can also lead to blockages in the small blood vessels supplying the brain.  

  • Bell’s palsy symptoms appear suddenly and are different from symptoms of a stroke because it only affects the face, not other parts of the body. Symptoms get worse in 48 to 72 hours (about 3 days) and might get better on their own in the next 3 weeks or so. But that is not the case with stroke. Stroke symptoms happen gradually on different parts of the body (which the damaged part of the brain controls). If early treatment is given, lives can be saved but any delay in treatment decreases the chances of survival of the patient or can lead to permanent disability (due to death of the brain cells).  
  • In 80% of cases, Bell’s palsy heals on its own in several weeks but that is not the case with stroke; it requires immediate treatment after the onset of symptoms, otherwise, it can be life-threatening.  

A stroke is a condition that needs emergency help! Call us at718-DORAL-55 if you or someone around you is having a stroke. We have the best neurologists in East New York. Make a call and save lives!

Similarities between Bells’ palsy and stroke 

Bell’s palsy and Stroke are not very similar but bell’s palsy mimics some of the symptoms of stroke such as facial paralysis or drooping, numbness of arms or legs, headaches, difficulty in swallowing, etc.  

But unlike a stroke, a bell’s palsy affects one part of the face, while a stroke affects multiple parts of the body at the same time.

Treatment and Prevention 

In around 80% of cases, Bell’s palsy does not require any treatment at all. It heals on its own in several weeks. If you have severe symptoms or want to speed up the process, you can take medications like prednisone and antiviral drugs to help to control swelling and help the nerve function return to normal. You should take physical therapy to prevent muscle shrinkage or swelling that can happen to your face. Surgery is only used in certain cases where medication and therapy fail.  

In case of Stroke, emergency treatment is required to avoid life-threatening situations. Treatment is given by medications, and/or surgeries. Most of the treatment is given by a combination of the two. Medications such as blood pressure drugs, anticoagulants, statins, tissue plasminogen activators, etc. help to break up the clots that cause the stroke, reduce the ability of blood to make clots, and help to prevent further strokes. Therapies such as physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and speech therapy help to reduce disabilities such as hearing impairment, regain strength and balance, and improve cognitive and thinking ability. Surgery is advised only when you have a ruptured aneurysm or have larger strokes.  

Bell’s palsy is caused by an infection, so that is no way you can prevent it from happening. It can happen to you more than once if you have a family history of the condition. While you can prevent stroke by maintaining a good lifestyle, eating healthy foods, doing exercise regularly, avoiding smoking, drinking too much alcohol, managing diabetes, maintaining proper weight, etc. reducing the chances of stroke.   

Bell’s palsy and stroke are quite different from each other even though they have some shared symptoms. But the causes, treatment, and risk factors are all hugely different from each other. Bell’s palsy can self-heal and the stroke needs emergency treatment. So, it is important to know the difference between the symptoms so that you can provide necessary first aid and call an ambulance to help save lives.

Want to know how you can help someone who is suffering from a stroke? 

Call us on718-DORAL-55 to get a free consultation.