What Is Bell's Palsy? Angelina Jolie Has Suffered From The Condition

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Angelina Jolie has done a good job of staying out of the tabloids recently. Since announcing her divorce from Brad Pitt, the actor has been keeping a low profile, living her life in private and giving only a few select interviews. Now, with the release of her fourth feature film as a director, First They Killed My Father, on the horizon, Jolie is back with a cover story in Vanity Fair. In the interview, Jolie touches on everything from her divorce and her children to her health. Last year, Jolie was diagnosed with Bell's palsy, and, as she tells the magazine, part of her year out of the spotlight was spent taking care of her health. But just what is Bell's palsy, exactly?

In Vanity Fair, Jolie's Bell's palsy diagnosis is revealed to have been related to hypertension (aka high blood pressure). In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) an exact cause for Bell's palsy has not been determined, though it has been linked to viral infections and high blood pressure. The condition itself is manifested in the swelling of facial nerves, which can cause temporary paralysis or extreme weakness of the facial muscles. A person who suffers from Bell's palsy are known to experience temporary paralysis to one side of his or her face. Thankfully, there are many different means of treatment for Bell's palsy, including steroids and medication, as well as therapies and massage. And Jolie herself stated that she was able to achieve a full recovery through acupuncture.

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot / Vanity Fair

In the interview, Jolie relates her recent health struggles to the stress of constantly taking care of others and leaving nothing for herself. "Sometimes women in families put themselves last, until it manifests itself in their own health," she said. This isn't the first time the actor has been open to the public about her health. In 2013, she wrote an op-ed in The New York Times detailing her choice to undergo a preventive double mastectomy. A few years later, she returned to the pages of the paper to write about the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes after a cancer scare.

Despite her chronicled health scares, fans shouldn't worry too much about the actor and director. Jolie tells the magazine that she is embracing the challenge of taking care of her own health. "I actually feel more of a woman because I feel like I'm being smart about my choices, and I'm putting my family first, and I'm in charge of my life and my health," she said. "I think that's what makes a woman complete."

As long as Jolie is feeling happy and healthy, whatever she's doing must be working.