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Antiviral tablets alone

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Antiviral tablets on their own don't help you to recover from Bell's palsy. Studies show they don't work any better than a pretend ( placebo) drug. They may even make you less likely to recover completely.

Bell's palsy happens because of inflammation in the nerves. It's possible that the inflammation is caused by a virus, so doctors have also tried using antiviral drugs as a treatment. Antiviral drugs include aciclovir (Zovirax) and valaciclovir (Valtrex).

However, two big studies of the research, looking at several thousand people, show that antiviral drugs alone don't work for Bell's palsy. [13] [11]



A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.

For more terms related to Bell's palsy


For references related to Bell's palsy click here.
Last Updated: October 22, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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