Bell's Palsy

Definition

Bell's palsy is a sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. It is usually a temporary condition.
Bell's Palsy: Facial Droop
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Causes

The exact cause of Bell's palsy is unknown. It is thought to be a result of an infection or inflammation in the nerve.Nerve infections include:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of Bell's palsy include:

Symptoms

Bell's palsy symptoms may come on suddenly or develop over a few days. Initial symptoms may include:
  • Pain behind the ear that is followed by weakness and paralysis of the face
  • Ringing sound in the ears
  • Slight hearing impairment
  • Slight increase in sensitivity to sound on the affected side
Symptoms of advanced Bell's palsy may include:
  • Facial weakness or paralysis, most often on one side
  • Numbness just before the weakness starts
  • Drooping corner of the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Decreased tearing
  • Inability to close an eye, which can lead to:
    • Dry, red eyes
    • Ulcers forming on the eye
    • Infection
  • Problems with taste on one side
  • Sound sensitivity in one ear
  • Earache
  • Slurred speech
Late complications can occur 3-4 months after onset and can include:
  • Long-lasting tightening of the facial muscles
  • Tearing from eye while chewing
Symptoms will often go away on their own within a few weeks. Bell's palsy may resolve after a few months in many people. In some cases, some symptoms of Bell's palsy may never go away. The recovery rate decreases with increasing age.

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