Facial symptoms of Bell's palsy.
The one-sided facial drooping seen in patients with Bell's palsy.

What is Bell's palsy?

Bell's palsy is a weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles. It occurs when the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) is damaged, resulting in a droopy appearance to one side of the face. Most cases of Bell's palsy are temporary, and the symptoms may resolve as early as 2 weeks. Some 40,000 Americans are affected by it each year; 80 percent recover within 3 months.

Who can get Bell's palsy?

Bell's palsy can occur at any age to virtually anyone. It may follow the flu, a cold, or respiratory illness. It can be associated with other illnesses, such as diabetes, sarcoidosis, and Lyme disease.

What causes Bell's palsy?

Bell's palsy results when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed. The exact reason for the nerve damage is unknown but it is suspected that most are viral in origin.

What are the symptoms of Bell's palsy?

Symptoms of Bell's palsy include:

  • One-sided facial paralysis.
  • Drooping of the corner of the mouth.
  • Facial or ear pain.
  • Drooling.
  • Impairment of taste.
  • Inability to close one eye.
  • Tearing or occasionally a lack of tear formation.
  • Hypersensitivity to sound.
  • Headache.

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