NINDS Bell’s Palsy Information Page
Source: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
What is Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from damage to the 7th (facial) cranial nerve. This nerve disorder afflicts approximately 40,000 Americans each year. It can strike almost anyone at any age; however, it disproportionately attacks pregnant women and people who have diabetes, influenza, a cold, or some other upper respiratory ailment. In addition to one-sided facial paralysis with possible inability to close the eye, symptoms of Bell’s palsy may include pain, tearing, drooling, hypersensitivity to sound in the affected ear, and impairment of taste. Researchers in Japan identified the common cold sore virus, herpes simplex, as the likely cause of most cases of Bell’s palsy.
Is there any treatment?
There is no specific treatment for Bell’s palsy. Treatment is usually aimed at protecting the eye from drying at nighttime. Some physicians may prescribe a corticosteroid drug to help reduce inflammation and an analgesic to relieve pain.
What is the prognosis?
he prognosis for Bell’s palsy is generally very good. With or without treatment, most patients begin to get significantly better within 2 weeks, and about 80 percent recover completely within 3 months. For some, however, the symptoms may last longer. In a few cases, the symptoms may never completely disappear.
What research is being done?
The NINDS supports an extensive research program of basic studies to increase understanding of how the nervous system works. A major goal of this research is to develop methods for repairing damaged nerves and restoring full use and strength to injured areas.
Bell’s Palsy Research Foundation
9121 E. Tanque Verde
Tucson AZ 85749
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 8923
(100 Route 37)
New Fairfield CT 06812-8923
Tel: 203-746-6518 800-999-NORD (-6673)
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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892