Influencer Katie Sturno 'woke up with Bell’s palsy' — what are the warning signs?

Katie Sturino opened up about Bell's palsy and invisible illnesses on Instagram. (Photo via Instagram/katiesturino)
Katie Sturino opened up about Bell's palsy and invisible illnesses on Instagram. (Photo via Instagram/katiesturino)

Katie Sturino revealed she is suffering from Bell's palsy in her latest Instagram post.

On Wednesday, the 38-year-old took to Instagram to share a candid video about her health with her 788,000 followers.

In the clip, the "Body Talk" author filmed herself speaking to the camera while wearing a white robe. The left side of her face drooped as a result of Bell's palsy, a condition that causes paralysis or weakness to the muscles on one side of your face.

"Invisible illness awareness post. This morning I woke up with Bell’s palsy which is where half of your face is paralyzed. I had been complaining of weird symptoms for the past couple weeks and everyone’s kind of like you’re fine," the body positive influencer said.

Sturino went on to explain how frustrated she is when invisible symptoms become "dismissed."

"Anyway, it just made me mad because once you have a physical symptom people are like oh, OK, but I think so often as women we’re trained to just endure things or dismissed, especially in the medical world," the Megababe founder shared. "So I just wanted to do a post about invisible illnesses and let you guys sound off in the comments if you’ve ever been frustrated and feel like people don’t believe you."

In the caption, the self-love advocate encouraged fans to open up about their struggles with invisible illnesses in the comments section.

"Woke up with Bell's [palsy] after a few weeks of escalating symptoms and I’m waiting for a Lyme test to come back," Sturino penned. "But I wanted to give you the space to talk about your own experience with invisible illness (I don’t even know if I have one yet) but please feel free to share below!"

As requested, fans were quick to share their stories and send good wishes to the the social media star.

"Hope you feel better, thank you for posting this. I have auto immune and feel incredibly frustrated when people don’t take my symptoms seriously," commented a follower.

"Sending you wishes for a speedy recovery!" shared someone else.

"Yes I suffer from chronic migraines and everyone always says oh it’s just a headache or you look fine but no! Sending you healing vibes and a speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing this experience," added another.

Paralysis of the facial nerve. Bell's palsy.
Bell's palsy causes partial paralysis to the facial nerve. (Photo via Getty Images)

What is Bell's palsy?

According to MyHealth Alberta, Bell's palsy "is a paralysis or weakness on one side of your face. Damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face causes that side of your face to droop."

The condition comes on suddenly, often overnight, and will generally get better on its own in a matter of weeks. It affects both men and women equally, and most cases occur between the ages of 20 and 40.

What are the symptoms?

The Canadian Association of Optometrists say the physical manifestations of Bell's palsy include "difficulty closing one eye, slurred speech, drooping of one corner of the mouth, inability to whistle, or a wrinkle-free forehead all on the same side."

Other minor symptoms include drooling, increased sensitivity to sounds, loss of taste, dry eyes and pain behind your ear.

depressed Asian woman having problem with Bell's Palsy/Facial Palsy, hand holding her face
Bell's palsy comes on suddenly and will generally get better in a matter of weeks. (Photo via Getty Images)

What causes Bell's palsy?

The cause of Bell's palsy is unclear. However, some believe the condition to be caused by the herpes virus or general inflammation to the facial nerves.

Others say that Lyme disease, upper respiratory tract infections, fever, dental surgery, exposure to extreme cold or menstruation may be at fault.

How can I prevent Bell's palsy?

As Bell's palsy is usually caused by an infection, it typically cannot be prevented. However, there are ways you can take care of yourself by performing basic facial exercises to strengthen the muscles in the face. Massaging your forehead, cheeks and lips may also help.

If you have Bell's palsy, medical professionals will usually treat the condition with antiviral medications or eye drops. However, many patients can recover completely in one to two months without any formal treatment.

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