What is Bell’s Palsy?

What is Bell’s Palsy?

Bell’s Palsy is a neurological condition that causes sudden, temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles. This makes half of the face appear to droop. The exact cause isn’t always clear, but it’s believed to be linked to viral infections that lead to inflammation of the facial nerve.

What is Bell's Palsy?

Understanding Bell’s Palsy

Imagine waking up one day to find that one side of your face doesn’t move as it should. You might find that you’re unable to smile fully or blink with one eye. This could be Bell’s Palsy, a health issue that can happen to anyone, though it’s quite rare.

What Happens During Bell’s Palsy?

During an episode of Bell’s Palsy, the facial nerve responsible for your expressions, blinking, and other movements is affected. Doctors think that a viral infection can make the nerve swell up. When this happens, it can’t work properly, which leads to the weakness or paralysis you see in the mirror.

What Causes Bell’s Palsy?

The leading cause of Bell’s palsy is not known. Researchers believe that viral infections may trigger inflammation, leading to Bell’s palsy. Some viruses that have been connected to Bell’s palsy include:

  • Chickenpox and shingles virus (herpes zoster)
  • Mononucleosis virus (Epstein-Barr)
  • German measles (rubella)
  • Mumps virus (mumps)
  • Flu (influenza B)
  • Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)
  • Viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)

Other potential risk factors include:

Symptoms to Watch For

If you have Bell’s Palsy, you might notice that you:

  • Can’t smile on one side of your face
  • Have trouble closing one eyelid
  • Might drool because you can’t control your mouth on one side
  • Have a little less taste on half of your tongue
  • Find sounds to be louder in one ear
  • Problems eating or drinking

How Is Bell’s Palsy Diagnosed?

If you experience facial weakness or drooping, you must see a doctor to determine the cause. Bell’s palsy is diagnosed primarily based on the appearance of your symptoms. Doctors may also use tests like MRI or CT scans to rule out other possible causes of facial paralysis.

How Is Bell’s Palsy Treated?

Most people recover from Bell’s Palsy with or without treatment after a few weeks. However, doctors might suggest the following.


Corticosteroids, like prednisone, are commonly prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling around the facial nerve. Since time is of the essence, doctors typically recommend starting these medications soon after symptoms begin.

Antiviral Medications

If a virus, such as herpes simplex, is suspected to be the cause, antiviral medicines might be added to the treatment plan. This, combined with corticosteroids, can sometimes improve recovery, especially in cases where a viral infection is clear.

Eye Care

Because you might not be able to blink or close your eyelid properly, it’s crucial to protect your eye from drying out and getting injured. You may use:

  • Artificial tears during the day to keep it moist
  • Protective eyewear to shield from wind and debris
  • Eye ointment at night to prevent drying while you sleep
  • Taping the eye closed for sleeping to keep it protected

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can play a role in maintaining muscle tone and stimulating the facial nerve to recover. Specific exercises guided by a therapist can help keep muscles active.

Facial Exercises

Simple facial exercises can help keep muscles engaged. Smiling, frowning, and eyebrow lifting can be beneficial when done gently and regularly.


Gentle massage can improve blood flow and may provide comfort, although it’s essential to do this carefully and typically under the guidance of a healthcare provider.


Some people find relief with acupuncture, although its effectiveness varies and should be considered complementary to medical treatments.

Monitoring and Follow-Up

Regular follow-up with your doctor is essential to monitor your recovery and adjust treatments as necessary.

When to See a Doctor

If you ever notice a sudden change in your facial movement, it’s important to see a doctor. They can figure out if it’s Bell’s Palsy or something else that needs different treatment.

Living with Bell’s Palsy

For many patients, Bell’s Palsy is temporary. Recovery can take a few weeks to several months. In the meantime, protecting the eye you can’t blink is vital — using eye drops during the day and eye ointment at night can help. With time and care, most people can expect to get their smile back.

Similar Posts