Definition

Bell palsy is a sudden weakness on one side of the face.

Bell Palsy: Facial Droop
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Causes

The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be a result of an infection that affects the nerve, such as the herpes simplex virus and Lyme disease .

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this health problem are:

  • Diabetes
  • Being in the third trimester of pregnancy

Symptoms

Symptoms may start all at once or get worse over 48 hours. They may be:

  • Twitching, weakness, or paralysis, most often on one side
  • Drooping corner of the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Drooping or problems closing an eye, which can cause dry eye
  • Excess tears from an eye
  • Loss of taste
  • Sensitivity to sounds
  • Pain in the jaw or ear
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Some people may need to see a doctor who treats eyes.

Treatment

Bell palsy often gets better on its own within a few weeks. Full healing may take 3 to 6 months. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms during this time. This can be done with:

Medication

Corticosteroids may be given to ease swelling. They may be given with anti-viral medicine to ease severe symptoms in some people.

Self-care

Eye care may be needed in some people. This may include:

  • Lubricant or eye drops
  • Covering and taping the eye closed at night
  • An eye patch to keep the eye closed

Therapy

Physical therapy may be needed. It may include facial exercises.

Prevention

There are no methods to prevent Bell palsy.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019 -
  • Update Date: 10/11/2019 -