In a newly released interview with Vanity Fair, actress Angelina Jolie opens up about her struggle with Bell’s palsy, a rare and often mysterious neurologic condition.
The Oscar-winning actress, who split from longtime husband Brad Pitt in late 2016, expressed concern that in caring for her six children post-divorce, she let her own health decline. Jolie reported turning to acupuncture for relief from Bell’s palsy and noted that she has since made a full recovery.
Bell’s palsy is a condition that leads to paralysis of the facial nerve, the peripheral nerve responsible for facial movement. Sufferers develop one-sided facial weakness — generally over a matter of hours or days — that can result in eyebrow sagging, inability to close the eye and drooping at the corner of the mouth. Other symptoms may include sensitivity to loud noise, ear pain on the side of paralysis and an impaired sense of taste. Because of the physical abnormalities the condition causes, many affected people experience significant psychological distress and restrict their social activities. The condition is relatively rare, affecting only about 40,000 Americans each year.
The treatment of Bell’s palsy may vary based on the severity of symptoms. Bell’s palsy generally has an excellent prognosis, and recovery — even without treatment — is fairly common. However, sometimes medications and other therapeutic options are necessary. The goals of treatment are to improve facial nerve function, reduce nerve damage and protect the eye. Most common treatment includes prednisone, antiviral agents such as acyclovir — normally used to treat herpetic infections — and eye care to prevent corneal drying, abrasion and ulcers.