If you’re diagnosed with a stroke, it’s natural to wonder what your recovery will entail. One of the things that may happen is facial drooping, which can be disconcerting to both the person experiencing it and their loved ones. But don’t worry — the effects vary depending on what part of your brain was affected by the stroke. And just like any other recovery, this too takes time and patience. Below are reasons why facial drooping occurs after a stroke.
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1. When Facial Muscles are Weakened
Like any muscle in the body, facial muscles are strung together. However, when you experience a stroke, these same muscles can be damaged. In instances like this, your facial muscles can start to weaken and lose their ability to hold your face up as stable as it once was. As a result, you may lose the ability to blink, smile, and frown — all things you likely take for granted. But this doesn’t mean you are stuck with facial drooping forever. Thankfully, facial drooping can be treated and even restored in some cases. This is why it’s important to seek medical help and always follow a doctor’s orders for treatment.
2. Follicular Impairment
If you suffer from a stroke, you may lose the ability to produce enough natural tears. This can cause swelling in your eyes, leading to facial drooping. This appears because some of the fluid meant to lubricate your eyes doesn’t get released as it should. You may notice this by having a less-watery appearance in your eyes than normal. It is also important to know that some of the symptoms of follicular impairment may include eye pain or even headaches. While some people may be tempted to use eye drops to treat this condition, your ophthalmologist is best suited to advise what treatment is best for you. If facial drooping is due to follicular impairment, chances are your doctor will prescribe artificial tears or recommend that you continue using the same ones you’ve been using.
Facial drooping can also be caused by post-stroke depression, which is a psychological condition brought about by a stroke. The different symptoms of this can include emotional changes and moodiness, sleep problems, and even emotional shutdowns. These problems are often accompanied by physical symptoms like facial weakness, eye fatigue, and facial drooping. Since there isn’t much you can do to treat this condition, the best thing to do is talk with your doctor. A stroke can be devastating, and recovery can take time, so take baby steps as you start to recover emotionally. The sooner you seek help, the faster your recovery will be.
As a part of the stroke recovery process, facial drooping can also be associated with neurological conditions. One such condition is Parkinson’s disease, an invisible, progressive neurological disorder that affects nerve cells. This condition leads to a multitude of symptoms, including facial drooping. While some people who have Parkinson’s may find that they can recover, others find this causes facial paralysis that isn’t reversible, and they will have it for life. If this is the case, you can do a few things to minimize the effect facial drooping has on your life.
- Maintain good sleep habits. This helps to keep stress at bay and to help you recharge your batteries.
- Keep your blood pressure in check. This will help keep the effects of Parkinson’s at bay.
Facial drooping can also be caused by an infection, like shingles. This is because the infection causes brain damage and is associated with moving facial muscles. You need to know that this condition may not show any symptoms for many years after the actual stroke. But if you do have a compromised immune system, you may be at a higher risk for having this condition. To treat shingles and recovery from a stroke, there are several different options that your doctor can discuss with you. In many cases, facial drooping is only temporary and will go away on its own after two to three weeks.
6. Brain Tumor
If you experience facial drooping after a stroke, it could be due to a tumor. As with other conditions that cause facial drooping, a brain tumor can come about as a direct result of the stroke, or it could have been present for years and only recently brought to your attention. Since there is no definitive test for determining whether or not you have a brain tumor, your doctor may order imaging tests like an MRI. This is a highly accurate method of finding out whether or not you have a tumor, as well as what type it is. However, in most instances, the tests aren’t done immediately after the stroke, so be aware that your recovery will take longer than expected.
How long the tumor will stay in your brain depends on the type and the size of it. The larger the tumor, the more your face will droop. Fortunately, durations of facial drooping from a brain tumor vary from short-term to long-term problems or even permanent.
It’s important to know that a traumatic brain injury can affect facial muscles and cause them to lose their ability to work as they’re meant to. As a result, your face will appear to droop. If this is the case, you should recover with time after the injury. However, you may have permanent facial drooping if the traumatic injury is particularly severe. The key is to keep your spirits high and stay positive. The more motivated you are to get treatment and heal as quickly as possible, the faster your recovery time.
8. Genetic Causes of Facial Drooping
While the causes of facial drooping can vary, certain genetic conditions may cause your face to sag when suffering from a stroke. This includes dominant facial palsy, skeletal dysplasia, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. There is limited movement or sometimes no movement at all of the affected muscles in all these conditions. These conditions also cause problems with facial spasms, which may make your face appear to droop.
While facial drooping can be a temporary problem, it also can be permanent. The condition will depend on the underlying cause and the extent of any damage done to your nervous system. Because of this, you need to find out what type of diagnosis you’ve received before deciding on a course of treatment.