Bell's palsy is a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of your face. Damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face causes that side of your face to droop. The nerve damage may also affect your sense of taste and how you make tears and saliva. This condition comes on suddenly, often overnight, and usually gets better on its own within a few weeks.
Bell's palsy is not the result of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). While stroke and TIA can cause facial paralysis, there is no link between Bell's palsy and either of these conditions. Palsy simply means weakness or paralysis.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of Bell's palsy is a sudden weakness or paralysis in one side of your face that causes it to droop. This may make it hard for you to close your eye on that side of your face.
Other symptoms include:
- Eye problems, such as excessive tearing or a dry eye.
- Loss of ability to taste.
- Pain in or behind your ear.
- Numbness in the affected side of your face.
- Increased sensitivity to sound.
How is Bell's palsy diagnosed?
Your doctor may diagnose Bell's palsy by asking you questions, such as about how your symptoms developed. He or she will also give you a physical and neurological exam to check facial nerve function and rule out more serious causes of facial paralysis.
How is it treated?
Most people who have Bell's palsy recover on their own within one to two months. But a small number of people may have permanent weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face.