Bell palsy is a sudden weakness on one side of the face.
|Bell Palsy: Facial Droop|
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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 .
Things that may raise the risk of this health problem are:
- Being in the third trimester of pregnancy
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
- 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
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.
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:
Corticosteroids may be given to ease swelling. They may be given with anti-viral medicine to ease severe symptoms in some people.
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
Physical therapy may be needed. It may include facial exercises.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Bell's palsy. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/bells-palsy.html. Updated October 6, 2017. Accessed October 11, 2019.
Bell's palsy. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1465. Updated August 2018. Accessed October 11, 2019.
Bell palsy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bell-palsy . Updated February 28, 2018. Accessed October 11, 2019.
Bell’s palsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Bells-Palsy-Information-Page. Updated March 27, 2019. Accessed October 11, 2019.
de Almeida JR, Guyatt GH, et al. Management of Bell palsy: clinical practice guideline. CMAJ. 2014 Sep 2;186(12):917-922.
Schwartz SR, Jones SL, Getchius TS, Gronseth GS. Reconciling the clinical practice guidelines on Bell’s palsy from the AA-HNSF and the AAN. Neurology. 2014;82(21):1927-1929.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 09/2019
- Update Date: 10/11/2019