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Prednisolone Benefits Patients with Bell's Palsy

Leads to recovery of facial function in more patients, whereas acyclovir does not affect outcomes

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- When given within three days of symptom onset, a 10-day treatment with prednisolone leads to recovery of facial function in significantly more patients with Bell's palsy than those not given prednisolone, whereas treatment with acyclovir had no impact on recovery, according to a report in the Oct. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Frank M. Sullivan, Ph.D., of the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomized 496 patients with Bell's palsy (recruited within 72 hours of symptom onset) to 10 days of treatment with prednisolone, acyclovir, both, or placebo.

The researchers found that after three months, 83 percent of the prednisolone group recovered facial function compared with 63.6 percent of patients not receiving prednisolone. After nine months, 94.4 percent of the prednisolone group had recovered compared with 81.6 percent of those not receiving prednisolone. There was no significant improvement for patients given acyclovir alone, and adding acyclovir did not improve recovery over prednisolone alone.

"In patients with Bell's palsy, early treatment with prednisolone significantly improves the chances of complete recovery at three and nine months," Sullivan and colleagues conclude.

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