We encountered 185 patients with Bell's palsy at our hospital between January 2003 and December 2005. Of these patients, 60% visited our department within 3 days of the onset, and 90% within 7 days of the onset ; the interval from onset to hospital visit showed no relation with the severity of the paralysis, Complete recovery was obtained in 85.0% of the patients with steroid or steroid + antiviral treatment. Preservation of the stapedius reflex was a statistically significant predictor of good prognosis, with a high positive predictive value (95.5%). Several factors influencing the prognosis were examined with a Cox's proportional hazards model. The factors considered were the sex of the patients, left / right localization, age, postauricular pain, eye symptoms, taste disorder, underlying diabetes, the Yanagihara facial grading system score, and use of antiviral drugs. The analysis revealed only the Yanagihara score and antiviral drug use as statistically important, with hazard ratios of 1.101 and 1.586, respectively. Although this study had several limitations, steroid + antiviral treatment could yield a better prognosis as compared to steroid treatment alone.
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