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Bell’s Palsy Treatment Doesn’t Seem to Need Antivirals

Last Updated: June 16, 2009.

The use of antivirals in conjunction with corticosteroids in treating Bell's palsy does not appear to improve the complete recovery rate of facial motor function, according to research published in the June issue of Archives of Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery.

TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- The use of antivirals in conjunction with corticosteroids in treating Bell's palsy does not appear to improve the complete recovery rate of facial motor function, according to research published in the June issue of Archives of Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery.

John K. Goudakos, M.D., and Konstantinos D. Markou, M.D., of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, reviewed data from five studies including 738 patients, of which they performed a meta-analysis on four. The corticosteroid used in most of the studies was prednisolone, and the antiviral for those taking combined therapy was acyclovir or valacyclovir.

The researchers found that the addition of an antiviral did not appear to provide any benefit in terms of the complete recovery rate of facial nerve paralysis at three months after the start of therapy. Individual studies found little difference between the corticosteroid and combined therapy groups for recovery rate of facial motor function at four, six, or nine months after therapy initiation.

"The current systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that addition of an antiviral agent to corticosteroids for the treatment of patients with Bell palsy is not associated with an increase in the complete recovery rate of facial motor function," the authors write. "Based on the currently available evidence, the addition of an antiviral agent to corticosteroids for the treatment of patients with Bell palsy is not justified."

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