What is Bell Palsy?

Bell's palsy is a condition in which facial muscles become weak or paralyzed for no apparent reason. Damage to the facial nerve causes this disorder (the 7th cranial nerve). It affects pregnant women the most, as well as persons who have diabetes, influenza, a cold, or another upper respiratory infection. Bell's palsy affects both males and women. It's less common before the age of 15 and after the age of 60.

Bell's palsy is a phrase used to describe facial muscle weakness caused by injury to the facial nerve, which can be temporary or permanent. Damage to the Bell's palsy, which controls the muscles on one side of the face, produces the drooping of that side of the face. Your sense of taste, as well as the way you generate tears and saliva, may be affected by the nerve injury.

The muscles in the face do not receive the signals they need to function properly when a facial nerve is damaged or missing. This causes facial paralysis, which can affect the eye (s) and/or mouth movement, among other things. Sudden weakness on one side of your face, on the other hand, should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible to rule out more serious problems.


The Facial Palsy Symptoms begin suddenly and last for hours, scaring the patient. On the paralyzed side of the head, the patient may experience pain behind the ear, in the neck, or before the head. Because the symptoms are small at first, they are frequently observed by others or by glancing in the mirror. Symptoms of facial palsy include:

  • Disordered movement of the muscles which control facial expression
  • Loss of feeling in the face
  • Headache
  • Drooling
  • Loss of sense or taste
  • Hypersensitivity to sound in the affected ear
  • Inability to close the eye


Bell's palsy is an idiopathic condition (no definite cause has been identified). Facial palsy has an unknown cause. The herpes virus, which produces cold sores, is assumed to be responsible for the majority of cases. In most cases of facial palsy, inflammation damages the nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face. Face weakness or paralysis can be caused by a variety of health issues. Facial Palsy is a condition that occurs when a precise cause for weakness cannot be identified.

However, research has revealed that viral illnesses such as herpes simplex are frequently to blame. People with diabetes and pregnant women are more likely to develop facial palsy. Patients with facial palsy frequently report being exposed to cold prior to the onset of symptoms.

Various causes of facial palsy include brain stroke (abnormally low blood flow to the brain), tumors, other infections, trauma, infections in the ear, and so on. Although Bell's palsy is the most well-known cause of facial paralysis, there are numerous other reasons, and treatment and prognosis differ depending on the cause.

Some main causes of facial palsy are listed below:
  • Bell's palsy and Ramsay Hunt syndrome are viral illnesses.
  • Surgical causes: for example, when an acoustic neuroma or facial nerve tumor is removed, or when the parotid gland is operated on.
  • Bacterial causes, such as Lyme disease or an infection in the middle ear
  • Traumatic injuries, such as brain, skull, or face fractures.
  • Forceps or facial presentation delivery, for example, can cause birth trauma.
  • Congenital disorders include faulty facial nerve or muscle development in the womb.
  • Moebius syndrome and CHARGE syndrome are two rare genetic syndromes.
  • Although a stroke can induce facial palsy, the issues are not caused by direct injury to the facial nerve. In this situation, paralysis is caused by brain injury and improper message transmission to the facial nerve.


A neurosurgeon will diagnose Facial palsy by asking you a series of questions, such as how your symptoms began. The doctor will also perform a physical and neurological examination to assess the function of your facial nerves. Other tests, such as blood tests, an MRI, or a CT scan, may be required if the source of your symptoms is unclear.

Bell's palsy is usually diagnosed by your healthcare practitioner based on your symptoms. Bell's palsy is diagnosed without the need for any special testing. However, your doctor may prescribe testing to rule out other disorders that cause similar symptoms and to establish the level of nerve damage or involvement. These tests may involve the following:

  • To establish the extent of nerve involvement, electromyography (EMG) is used.
  • Blood testing to see if there's anything else going on, like diabetes or Lyme disease.
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan will be used to see if your symptoms are due to a structural issue.


With or without treatment, most persons with Bell's palsy recover entirely. However, for a faster recovery, you should visit your doctor, who may prescribe drugs or physical therapy.


Oral corticosteroids (prednisolone) and antiviral medicines are used to treat Bell's palsy. Despite this, in persons with severe facial palsy, valacyclovir (Valtrex) is sometimes taken in combination with prednisone.

  • Prednisone and other corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce the swelling of the facial nerve, allowing it to fit more easily inside the bone tunnel that surrounds it. If you start corticosteroids within a few days after the onset of your symptoms, you'll get the best results.
  • Antivirals' function is still muddled. When compared to a placebo, antivirals alone have demonstrated little benefit. Antivirals combined with steroids may be beneficial for some people with Bell's palsy, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Physical Therapy

Muscles that have been paralyzed may shrivel and shorten, resulting in persistent contractures. To assist avoid this, a physical therapist can instruct you how to massage and train your facial muscles.


Decompression surgery was previously used to relieve pressure on the facial nerve by opening the bone channel through which the nerve passes. Decompression procedures are no longer recommended. This operation has the potential to cause facial nerve injury and lifelong hearing loss. In some cases, plastic surgery is required to repair long-term facial nerve problems.


The risk of developing Bell’s palsy increases if
  • You are pregnant
  • You have diabetes
  • You have a lung infection
  • You have a family history of this condition


Bell's palsy is a condition that normally goes away on its own with no long-term consequences. Most persons with Bell's palsy, however, are unable to close their eyes to the affected side of their face during their illness. As a result, protecting the eye from drying when sleeping or working at a computer is critical. During the day, eye drops, ointment, or a moisture chamber may be used, and at night, eye drops may be used.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the main cause of Bell's palsy?

Bell's palsy has no recognized etiology. Bell's palsy patients experience swelling and irritation of the cranial nerve VII. The condition is thought to be caused by the reactivation of an existing (dormant) viral infection, according to most scientists.

2. How Long Can Bell's Palsy last?

Bell's palsy causes facial paralysis in the majority of people. After around two weeks, you should see a steady improvement. The majority of persons regain full facial motion and function within three months.

3. Is Bell's palsy an emergency?

There are several illnesses that resemble Bell's palsy but are medical crises, such as stroke. If you detect facial weakness or drooping, you should seek emergency medical attention. Although Bell's palsy can be frightening, it is rarely life-threatening.