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Do You Know the Difference Between Bell’s Palsy and a Stroke?

Philadelphia delayed diagnosis of stroke attorneys at The Colleran firm explain the difference between bells palsy and a stroke

When a doctor or other healthcare professional fails to properly diagnose a condition, a patient can sustain severe injuries as a result of a delayed diagnosis. Did you or someone you love recently sustain a permanent impairment because your physician failed to properly diagnose and treat the symptoms of a stroke? A dedicated stroke misdiagnosis lawyer in Philadelphia can help with your case.

Symptoms of a Stroke

If you begin to notice weakness in part of your body or difficulty with speech, you may be experiencing a stroke. According to a report from NBC 11 News, it is extremely important to know the difference between symptoms of a stroke and symptoms of Bell’s palsy, which causes temporary facial paralysis.

According to the report, “Bell’s palsy often strikes without warning and leaves one side of the face temporarily paralyzed, with a drooping mouth and eyelid.” However, a Bell’s palsy diagnosis is quite different from a stroke diagnosis, and each condition requires specific treatment.

How can you know if it is Bell’s palsy or a stroke?

According to a fact sheet from the American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association, there are four key stroke warning signs and symptoms that create the acronym “FAST”:Difference betweeen an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke

  • Face drooping: if you notice that one side of your face is numb or sagging, or if you are smiling unevenly, you should seek medical attention.
  • Arm weakness: when one arm is weak or numb, it may be a sign of a stroke.
  • Speech difficulty: if you notice that a person’s speech is slurred, or if they are having difficulty repeating simple sentences, this could be an indication that the person is having a stroke.
  • Time to contact 911: if you notice that someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to call 911 as soon as possible to get the person to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.

The American Stroke Association notes that other signs and symptoms of a stroke can include:

  • Any sudden numbness, particularly numbness that affects just one side of the body;
  • Any sudden confusion;
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech;
  • Difficulty seeing out of one eye or both eyes;
  • Any sudden difficulty walking;
  • Loss of balance, or dizziness;
  • Sudden headache that is severe and has no known cause.

What to Do if You Suspect Someone Is Suffering a Stroke

A stroke needs to be treated immediately, and that treatment depends upon the type of stroke you are having.  If you are experiencing an ischemic stroke that is blocking an artery (this is the most common type of stroke), then you will require emergency treatment with medications, and this must begin as soon as possible, according to the Mayo Clinic. A hemorrhagic stroke (which involves bleeding in the brain) also must be treated immediately with drugs and procedures to control the bleeding and to reduce pressure on your brain.

Given that a stroke requires nearly immediate treatment that is extremely specific and time specific, a delayed diagnosis of a stroke can result in life-threatening and even fatal injuries.

Bell’s Palsy Symptoms

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy can sometimes look like symptoms of a stroke, particularly to an untrained eye. Recognizing the difference between Bell’s palsy and stroke can mean the difference between life and death. Emergency medical doctors must be able to recognize the varying signs and symptoms of Bell’s palsy and a stroke, and they must provide the proper treatment for your condition.

According to a fact sheet from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bell’s palsy is “a form of temporary facial paralysis resulting from damage or trauma to the facial nerves.” It may caused by diabetes, Lyme disease, or a viral infection that results in swelling of the facial nerves and restriction of the flow of blood and oxygen. While signs and symptoms can vary in severity, common symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:

  • Twitching, weakness, and/or paralysis on one side of the face (rarely in both sides of the face);The symptoms of bells palsy can be very similar to a stroke.
  • Drooping eyelid;
  • Drooping corner of the mouth;
  • Drooling;
  • Dryness in the eye or mouth;
  • Taste impairment;
  • Excessive tearing in one eye;
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw or behind the ear;
  • Ringing in one or both ears;
  • Headache;
  • Loss of taste;
  • Hypersensitivity to sound on one side of the face;
  • Impaired speech; and

Bell’s palsy symptoms usually appear suddenly and reach their peak within 48 hours. They lead to significant facial paralysis for a period of time.

As you can see, symptoms of Bell’s palsy resemble those of a stroke for a patient without medical training. When a patient has Bell’s palsy, a medical professional should provide specific medications and therapies to reduce the risks of long-term and permanent nerve damage. With a Bell’s palsy delayed diagnosis, the patient can suffer irreparable nerve damage.

Why A Proper Diagnosis is Important

Proper diagnosis of a stroke or Bell’s palsy is extremely important for patients to receive the proper medication and treatment. Given that medications for a stroke typically need to be provided within three hours—and ideally sooner—for a patient to recover, a delayed stroke diagnosis can be life-threatening. If a Bell’s palsy patient is misdiagnosed with a stroke, she may not receive the proper medication to recover from nerve damage in her face.

Proper diagnosis is essential to recovery. If you or someone you love was misdiagnosed with stroke or Bell’s palsy, a New Jersey misdiagnosis lawyer can assist you.

What to Do if You Were Misdiagnosed

At The Colleran Firm, we understand that a lawsuit can never compensate you for all of the physical and emotional losses you have incurred. However, by filing a claim, you can seek financial compensation to help pay for medical bills and physical therapy, and you also may be entitled to additional damages for pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life.

When patients are misdiagnosed and sustain personal injuries, healthcare professionals can be held accountable for medical negligence or medical malpractice if they failed to follow the recognized standard of care in providing treatment. At The Colleran Firm, we are dedicated to helping clients in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area with delayed diagnosis claims. We know how devastating a delayed diagnosis can be for the patient and his or her family. Physicians have a duty to provide a certain level of care, and when they neglect to do that, injured patients deserve to be compensated.

If you or someone you love has sustained injuries as a result of medical negligence, an experienced Pennsylvania delayed diagnosis lawyer can discuss your legal options with you today. Contact The Colleran Firm to learn more about our services.

The attorneys at The Colleran Firm handle serious injury cases caused by health care provider negligence and medical malpractice in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

Connect With Us:

The Colleran Firm

2005 Market Street # 1940
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 972-8000
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