Bell's palsy

Bell’s palsy cause sudden weakness in your facial muscles. This makes half of your face appear to droop. Your smile is one-sided, and your eye on that side resists closing. Bell's palsy, also known as facial palsy, can occur at any age. The exact cause is unknown, but it's believed to be the result of swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of your face. It may be a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.

Symptoms


  • Rapid onset of mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of your face — occurring within hours to days — making it difficult to smile or close your eye on the affected side
  • Facial droop and difficulty making facial expressions
  • Pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear on the affected side
  • Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side
  • Headache
  • A decrease in your ability to taste
  • Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce

In rare cases, Bell's palsy can affect the nerves on both sides of your face.


When to see a doctor



Seek immediate medical help if you experience any type of paralysis because you may be having a stroke. Bell's palsy is not caused by a stroke. See your doctor if you experience facial weakness or drooping, to determine the underlying cause and severity of the illness.



Tips:

  • Protecting the eye you can't close. Using lubricating eye drops during the day and an eye ointment at night will help keep your eye moist. Wearing glasses or goggles during the day and an eye patch at night can protect your eye from getting poked or scratched.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help ease your pain.
  • Applying moist heat. Putting a washcloth soaked in warm water on your face several times a day may help relieve pain.
  • Doing your physical therapy exercises. Massaging and exercising your face according to your physical therapist's advice may help relax your facial muscles.