Bell's Palsy

Also known as: facial palsy, facial paralysis

What is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a sudden unexplained episode of weakness or paralysis of part of the face muscles, usually on one side, that can occur at any age. It usually gets worse (for a few days) before it gets better,  Full recovery can take weeks to many months and itis rarely permanent.

Bell’s Palsy is relatively uncommon before 15 years of age.

What causes Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s palsy occurs from damage to the 7th cranial nerve, the nerve controlling movement of facial muscles, from an unknown inflammation. It seems to be associated with viral infections, toxins, trauma, diabetes, high blood pressure and other precipitating factors.

What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy? 

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain

  • Drooping of the face

  • Drooling of saliva

  • Loss of feeling on one side

  • Abnormal movements of facial muscles

  • Difficulty smiling, blinking, or closing an eyelid on one side of the face

  • Tearing

  • Increased sensitivity

  • Headaches


What are Bell’s palsy care options? 

In many cases, Bell’s palsy resolves over time and protecting the eye from dryness with eye care treatments is all that is required. Other options include; steroids, antiviral medications, analgesics and/or physical therapy.

There is no evidence that alternative therapies are of benefit.

Plastic surgery may be required in more extreme cases

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/11/2018 11:04:52 AM

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