Bell’s palsy is the paralysis or weakening of the facial muscles, most commonly affecting one side of the face. Facial nerve damage causes one side of the face to droop, and may also cause the affected person to lose their sense of taste in addition to other symptoms.
In most cases, Bell’s palsy goes away on its own, although it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to many months for symptoms to subside. While most patients do not have ongoing symptoms, there are some individuals who experience life-long symptom associated with this neurological disorder.
The cause of Bell’s palsy is not certain at this point. However, it is commonly believed among medical professionals that cases can be caused by the herpes virus or from stress. The disorder occurs most often among people after they have had a cold, flu, or other infection. People with immune system disorders, who have diabetes, or pregnant women are also more susceptible to developing Bell’s palsy.
Bell’s Palsy Symptoms
Bell’s palsy often occurs overnight and without much, if any, warning. A sudden paralysis or weakness on one side of the face that causes that side of the face to droop is the key symptom of the disorder. This is often accompanied by the inability to close the eye on the affected side of the face in addition to a feeling of general discomfort or pain. Other symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity to noise
- Pain around or in your ear
- Excessive tearing or other eye problems such as dry eye
- Loss of taste
- Numbness around the affected side of the face
Your doctor will be able to perform the necessary neurological and physical exams to determine what underlying conditions are causing your symptoms. Depending on the root cause of your Bell’s palsy, you may be able to recover without treatment or, if paralysis or muscle weakness is caused by inflammation, medication for reducing inflammation may be prescribed.
If you have questions about Bell’s Palsy contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see an ear nose and throat specialist.