SYDNEY, Australia (PNN) - August 21, 2021 - An Australian minister was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy after onlookers noticed his droopy eye during a live press conference. The minister had received the first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in May, which could be linked to the symptom.
Victor Dominello, the New South Wales Minister for Customer Services, was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy after undergoing a medical check-up after suffering facial paralysis while giving a live press conference update on COVID-19.
On Wednesday night, August 18, Dominello confirmed the diagnosis of temporary facial paralysis on Instagram.
“At this morning’s press conference - a number of people commented on my droopy eye,” the minister wrote, recounting that, “some people thought - I was winking at the cameraman, and others thought I had a stroke. In fact, I have been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy,” he said.
“About 48 hours ago I felt a pain in my skull behind my right ear. This morning I woke up with pins and needles on the right side of my tongue,” he wrote.
He also said he only took it more seriously when several people sent him screenshots of the press conference, and a few others contacted him, thanking everyone who had been concerned about his condition.
Interestingly, as Minister Dominello had announced earlier, also via Instagram, his second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine (also known by the name Covishield in some countries) was scheduled for August 19, the same day of the conference where he suffered the paralysis.
But media that reported the symptoms of paralysis suffered by the minister in full view of all those who were watching him at the press conference omitted this fact.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, “Bell’s palsy, also known as idiopathic facial palsy, is a form of temporary facial paralysis or weakness on one side of the face. It results from dysfunction of cranial nerve VII (facial nerve) which directs the muscles on one side of the face, including those that control eye blinking and closing and facial expressions such as smiling.”
Other symptoms may include drooping of the mouth, drooling, inability to close the eye (causing dryness of the eye), and excessive tearing in one eye. Individuals may also have facial pain or abnormal sensation, altered taste, and intolerance to loud noise.
It also specifies that the exact cause is unknown, usually affecting only one side of the face but may affect both sides. While, as reported by the Institute, improvement may or may not require treatment, facial functions usually recover partially or completely within six months. In some cases, residual muscle weakness lasts longer or may be permanent.