Excessive use of AC may cause facial paralysis, warn UAE doctors

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With temperatures ready to soar in the GCC, experts are warning residents to be aware of a certain condition that is caused by a high usage of air conditioners. The sudden transition from extremely warm temperatures outdoors to cold temperatures indoors is one of the leading concerns associated with Bell’s palsy, a facial paralysis caused due to the inflammation of the facial nerve in the skull.

The lesser-known condition is characterised by the inability to move one side of the facial muscles and is often mistaken for a brain stroke by patients’ due to appearance similar symptoms. Bell’s Palsy also causes drooping of the facial muscles, twitching, weakness, drooling, pain around the ear and increased sensitivity to sound.

According to most international population studies, 15-30 cases per 100,000 population of Bell’s palsy are observed annually. Additionally, Bell’s palsy accounts for 60-75 per cent of acute unilateral facial paralysis cases with the right-side being affected 63 per cent of the time. In rare cases, the condition can occur on both sides of the face.

Due to the onset of summer, doctors are advising people of all age groups to be careful and seek medical assistance in case of any sudden numbness on the face. Sleeping in extremely cold temperatures, leaving your hair wet in cold temperatures and sudden fluctuations between extreme temperatures should be avoided as much as possible.

“Bell’s Palsy is more common than thought due to the high usage of air conditioners in the region. The condition may occur from the transition of cool AC temperatures to the warm temperatures outdoors. Extreme cold temperatures in offices, houses, malls and cinemas may trigger damage to the facial nerve in rare cases and should be avoided. Kids area should always be moderately cool as they too are at risk of developing the condition”, added Kristina.

Speaking about the main cause of the disease, Dr Caesar Zahka, consultant neurologist at Burjeel Hospital for advanced surgery, said: “Many people get it after they get out from a warm or hot place (like out of a hot shower) to a cool place with high AC. This sudden change in temperature could be responsible for activating a latent virus in a person causing the problem. The recovery from Bel’s palsy takes from few days to at times a year or more. About 10-30 per cent of people may not recover at all.”

What is Bell’s palsy?

The condition may occur due to a viral infection or sudden change in temperature which may trigger the nerve damage in the skull leading to paralysis of facial muscles. The damage causes the facial nerve to die and requires proper medications and treatment to help the nerve regrow to its initial length.


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