Bell palsy is a sudden weakness on one side of the face.
|Bell Palsy: Facial Droop
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The exact cause of Bell Palsy is not known. It is thought to be a result of an infection that affects a nerve. Herpes simplex virus and Lyme disease are some examples.
The risk of Bell palsy may be higher in people with diabetes. It may also be higher in pregnant women who are in their third trimester.
Symptoms may start all at once or get worse over 48 hours. Problems may be:
- Twitching, weakness, or paralysis, most often on one side
- Drooping corner of the mouth
- Drooping eye or problems closing an eye, which can lead to dry eye
- Excess tears from an eye
- Loss of taste
- Sensitivity to sounds
- Pain in the jaw or ear
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. 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.
Bell palsy can get better on its own within a few weeks. Full healing may take 3 to 6 months. Treatment may be needed to manage more severe symptoms. Choices are:
- Corticosteroids to ease swelling
- Eye care, such as:
- Lubricant or eye drops
- Covering and taping the eyelid closed at night
- An eye patch to keep the eyelid closed
- Facial exercise therapy
There are no known methods to prevent Bell palsy.
- Bell's palsy. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/bells-palsy.
- Bell’s palsy. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/bells-palsy.