Facial Palsy



Bell's palsy is a disorder of the nerve that controls movement of the muscles in the face.

Damage to this nerve causes weakness or paralysis of these muscles. Paralysis means that you cannot use the muscles at all.

Alternative Names

Facial palsy ; Idiopathic peripheral facial palsy; Cranial mononeuropathy


Bell's palsy affects about 30,000 - 40,000 people a year in the United States.

Bell's palsy involves damage to the seventh cranial (facial) nerve. This nerve controls the movement of the muscles of the face.

Bell's palsy is thought to be due to swelling (inflammation) of this nerve in the area where it travels through the bones of the skull.

The cause is often not clear. A type of herpes infection called herpes zoster might be involved. Other conditions that may cause Bell's palsy include:

  • - HIV infection.
  • - Lyme disease.
  • - Middle ear infection.
  • - Sarcoidosis.


Sometimes you may have a cold shortly before the symptoms of Bell's palsy begin.

Symptoms most often start suddenly, but may take 2 - 3 days to show up. They do not become more severe after that.

Symptoms are almost always on one side only. They may range from mild to severe.

The face will feel stiff or pulled to one side, and may look different. Other symptoms can include :

  • - Difficulty eating and drinking; food falls out of one side of the mouth.
  • - Drooling due to lack of control over the muscles of the face.
  • - Drooping of the face, such as the eyelid or corner of the mouth.
  • - Hard to close one eye.
  • - Problems smiling, grimacing, or making facial expressions
  • - Twitching or weakness of the muscles in the face

Other symptoms that may occur :

  • - Dry eye or mouth.
  • - Headache.
  • - Loss of sense of taste.
  • - Sound that is louder in one ear (hyperacusis).
  • - Twitching in face.