Bell’s palsy is a fairly common condition that causes the sudden paralysis of half of the face.  Effected people can’t fully close the effected eye and have an asymmetric smile, since only one side of the mouth moves well.  The cause is unknown and has always assumed to be viral.  The symptoms slowly resolve over a few months.

The accepted treatment has always been steroids and acyclovir (an anti-viral medication), each for about 10 days.  A study in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine finally put the accepted practice to the test.

About 500 patients who presented for care within 72 hours of developing Bell’s palsy were randomized to receive either steroids, or acyclovir, or both medications, or placebo.  The results: steroids clearly helped, acyclovir didn’t.

Tangential Miscellany:

Women frequently accuse men of not listening to them and only being interested in sex.  For these men, yesterday’s FDA warning that medications for erectile dysfunction may cause sudden hearing loss is not necessarily bad news.