Bell’s Palsy

October 3, 2013

Bell’s palsy is often characterized by a weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. While similar in appearance to the results of a stroke, Bell’s palsy is not normally linked to a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). If you notice a sudden weakness on one side of your face, or are concerned for your health at all, visit an emergency room or your primary doctor immediately. Bell’s Palsy can affect the eyes, especially the ability to produce sufficient lubrication for the surface and a difficulty keeping the eye on affected side open.

While the exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unclear, it is thought that many cases are related to the herpes simplex one virus. Bell’s palsy often presents with an inflammation of the nerve that controls unilateral facial muscles. Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include sudden weakness/drooping/paralysis of one side of the face; a difficulty closing eye on affected side; inability to control drooling; tearing; decreased or total loss of ability to taste; ear pain; phonophobia (sensitivity to sound); numbness of affected side of face. Testing for Bell’s palsy may include an in-office exam, MRI, CT scan, and/or blood testing. Treatment may range from monitoring to corticosteroid and/or antiviral medications.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have Bell’s Palsy, set up an appointment with your primary care physician, ophthalmologist, or emergent care center. Because symptoms of Bell’s Palsy can be similar to the symptoms of a stroke, early diagnosis is important.