May also be called: Facial Palsy
Everyone has two facial nerves, one on each side of the head, that carry messages from the brain to the face. These messages may tell an eyelid to close, one side of the mouth to smile or frown, or salivary glands to make spit.
With Bell's palsy, one of the facial nerves swells and gets compressed as it passes through a small hole at the base of the skull. The compressed nerve can't send messages correctly, resulting in weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the face.
Some people with Bell's palsy have only slight weakness; others may not be able to move that side of their face at all. Other symptoms may include headaches, a drooping or sagging appearance on the affected side of the face, and difficulty fully shutting one eye.
Bell's palsy is most often associated with a viral infection, but it can also be related to ear infections, bad colds, or trauma to the head or face. Usually, the virus or infection that leads to Bell's palsy has passed, so often there's no specific treatment for the condition. It goes away once the swelling of the nerve goes down and the nerve recovers from any damage.
In some cases, doctors can give medicine such as steroids to help reduce the swelling, or prescribe an eye patch or eye drops if the person's eye is dry. Lyme disease is a common cause of Bell's palsy, and treatment with antibiotics is recommended in these cases.
Bell's palsy should be diagnosed and evaluated by a doctor. Most people with Bell's palsy recover fully within 1 to 3 months with or without treatment, although some may have permanent weakness in their face afterward.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|American Lyme Disease Foundation This organization is dedicated to advancing the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of Lyme disease.|
|National Institutes of Health (NIH) NIH is an Agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and offers health information and scientific resources.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Brain and Nervous System If the brain is a central computer that controls all the functions of the body, then the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth to different parts of the body. Find out how they work in this Body Basics article.|
|Lyme Disease Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease in kids is almost always treatable.|
|Brain and Nervous System The brain controls everything we do, and is often likened to the central computer within a vast, complicated communication network, working at lightning speed.|
|Your Brain & Nervous System Your brain is the boss of your body and runs the whole show. Learn more in this article for kids.|
|Bell's Palsy Bell's palsy is a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. Though it can be alarming, it typically goes away in a matter of weeks.|
|Bell's Palsy Bell's palsy is a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. Although it doesn't happen to many people, it can be scary. Get the facts on Bell's palsy.|
|Bell's Palsy Bell's palsy weakens or paralyzes one side of a person's face, but it usually goes away. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Lyme Disease The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Find out more about this disease and how to keep those ticks away.|
|Lyme Disease Lyme disease can be treated if it's caught early. So read this to find out what causes it, how it's treated, and how to prevent it.|
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