Botox Cures Woman's Case of Crying While Eating

A woman who cried every time she ate found relief in Botox injections.

ByABC News
January 28, 2009, 3:59 PM

Jan. 29, 2009— -- Patricia Webster's struggle with the degenerative nerve condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome has been a constant battle for the past 18 years. She has endured paralysis, a three-month-long hospital stay, lingering facial spasms and more.

But Webster, a 58-year-old mother of three who lives in Maidstone, England, said that for years, one of the most mortifying and perplexing symptoms of her condition came about whenever she sat down for a meal.

Specifically, whenever she ate or had a drink, tears would begin rolling down her face.

"For the last 18 years of my life I've done nothing, and the embarrassment of my eyes was a major part of this," she said. "I was fed up with people coming up to me and asking, 'What's wrong?' I'm not the sort of person who cries in public when I want attention."

Webster's doctors, too, were baffled by the unusual condition. At one point, an ophthalmologist told Webster that her only option would be major surgery on her eyes, which would have led to significant recovery time and scarring. And, even then, there was no guarantee that this extreme option would even work.

But two years ago, one of Webster's physicians offered a novel suggestion -- shots of Botox, delivered directly into the tear gland.

"Of course, I'm thinking, 'Botox ... it's a cosmetic treatment.' I thought, 'He's not worried about my eye, he's telling me that I'm wrinkly,'" Webster said, laughing.

But the results, it turned out, were no joke.

"It worked instantly," she said. "To coin a phrase, I couldn't believe my eyes."

While Botox, the brand name of the botulinum toxin produced by Allergan, is most often associated with its cosmetic applications, the original use of the drug was actually for nerve and muscle conditions like the one Webster experienced. The drug itself is a paralytic agent, and injecting it into a muscle effectively cuts the nerve signals that cause the muscle to contract.

For some, this means relief from a spastic muscle, or even a tension-induced headache. For Webster, it meant a stop to her unwanted tears.