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Ask Dr. Gott 4/25

Bell's Palsy symptoms linger

DEAR DR. GOTT: I have three questions for you. I am a 65-year-old lady in fairly good health. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about five years ago, which I am learning to live with.
    1. I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy a year ago this month. Some of the paralysis still exists. What are options for approaching this illness? What can you tell me about this viral attack? Will the paralysis ever totally leave?
    2. Last month, after wearing a heart monitor for heart palpitations, I was diagnosed with premature atrial contractions. I take Corgard when they happen. What else could cause PACs if I can eliminate chocolate, caffeine and anxiety? Could poor sleep contribute? Could this all tie into the fibromyalgia? I am curious about fainting goats (which actually do not faint, but rather their muscles freeze up on them). Has there been any study between these goats and fibromyalgia?
    3. While the doctor was examining me, he heard a swooshing sound in my right carotid artery, so he sent me to have a Doppler test, which turned out to be normal. He said he supposed that the swooshing sound was where the artery made a turn. Can you expand on that?
    DEAR READER: 1. Bell's Palsy is a nerve disorder marked by paralysis of some of the facial muscles on one side of the face or the other. It's cause is presumed to be a viral infection; however, in some cases, Bell's Palsy can accompany Lyme disease and other nerve disorders. In most instances, the paralysis disappears within a year. Some patients take longer to recover fully. Rarely, the paralysis can be permanent.
    2. Premature atrial contractions are common, harmless and do not signify underlying heart disease. PACs can be related to stress, exertion, thyroid disorders and caffeine.
    I do not know of any patients with fainting goat disease, so I cannot comment on this condition. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown; symptoms are treated as they develop, and goats haven't been involved.
    3. The carotid arteries, one on either side of the neck, are a main source of blood to the brain. Ordinarily, this blood flow is silent. "Whooshing" sounds can reflect plaque partially blocking the artery or an unusual curve in the artery. In your case, the Doppler study virtually ruled out significant carotid obstruction, so you can relax.
    From your description, I believe that your physician has covered the bases. Stick with him or her.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Coronary Artery Disease."

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