Facial Nerve Function
Your facial nerve is one of twelve cranial nerves in your body, and is the nerve responsible for controlling facial expressions and conveying taste sensations that come from the front portion of the tongue.
If you are experiencing problems with your facial nerve, you may notice symptoms such as twitching, weakness or paralysis of the muscles in your face. Alterations in your taste and eye or mouth dryness are additional symptoms.
However, these symptoms can also be a sign of other disorders. If you are experiencing these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor for a professional diagnosis.
About facial nerve problems
A facial nerve disorder can be caused by a number of conditions:
- Bell’s palsy – A specific form of facial paralysis that results from the dysfunction of the facial nerve. Results in an inability to control the facial muscles on the side of the face that is affected
- Trauma – Facial injuries, birth trauma, trauma from surgery, middle ear injuries, and skull fractures
- Nervous system disorder – Nerve system diseases can cause facial nerve problems.
- Metabolic dysfunction – Pregnant women are more prone to metabolic problems, which can increase the chance of developing facial nerve conditions. People with diabetes mellitus are also more susceptible
- Infections of the ear or face – Ramsey-Hunt syndrome is a herpes infection that causes facial nerve conditions
If you believe that you are experiencing any degree of facial nerve dysfunction, it is important that your doctor investigate the causes. An ear, nose and throat specialist has the skills and advanced tools necessary to make a thorough diagnosis. A few of the tests that a doctor may carry out include an imaging study, hearing test, taste test, balance test, tear test, salivation test, and nerve stimulation exam. In some cases, no treatment plan is necessary as the condition will heal itself with time. However, it is important to take facial nerve problems seriously and to follow a prescribed treatment plan if necessary.
If you have concerns about a facial nerve problem, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see an ear nose and throat specialist.