Signs and symptoms of Bellís palsy

September 4, 2017

Bellís palsy causes sudden weakness in your facial muscles. This makes half of your face appear to droop. Your smile is one-sided, and your eye on that side resists closing.

Bellís palsy, also known as facial palsy, can occur at any age. The exact cause is unknown, but itís believed to be the result of swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of your face. It may be a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.

For most people, Bellís palsy is temporary. Symptoms usually start to improve within a few weeks, with complete recovery in about six months. A small number of people continue to have some Bellís palsy symptoms for life. Rarely, Bellís palsy can recur.

Signs and symptoms of Bellís palsy come on suddenly and may include:

ó Rapid onset of mild weakness to total paralysis on one side of your face ó occurring within hours to days

ó Facial droop and difficulty making facial expressions, such as closing your eye or smiling

ó Drooling

ó Pain around the jaw or in or behind your ear on the affected side

ó Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side

ó Headache

ó A decrease in your ability to taste

ó Changes in the amount of tears and saliva you produce

In rare cases, Bellís palsy can affect the nerves on both sides of your face.


Facial nerve

Although the exact reason Bellís palsy occurs isnít clear, itís often linked to exposure to a viral infection. Viruses that have been linked to Bellís palsy include the virus that causes:

ó Cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)

ó Chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster)

ó Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)

ó Cytomegalovirus infections

ó Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)

ó German measles (rubella)

ó Mumps (mumps virus)

ó Flu (influenza B)

ó Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (coxsackievirus)

With Bellís palsy, the nerve that controls your facial muscles, which passes through a narrow corridor of bone on its way to your face, becomes inflamed and swollen ó usually related to a viral infection. Besides facial muscles, the nerve affects tears, saliva, taste and a small bone in the middle of your ear.


Bellís palsy occurs more often in people who:

ó Are pregnant, especially during the third trimester, or who are in the first week after giving birth

ó Have an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu or a cold

ó Have diabetes

Also, some people who have recurrent attacks of Bellís palsy, which are rare, have a family history of recurrent attacks. In those cases, there may be a genetic predisposition to Bellís palsy.


Seek immediate medical help if you experience any type of paralysis because you may be having a stroke. Bellís palsy is not caused by a stroke. See your doctor if you experience facial weakness or drooping to determine the underlying cause and severity of the illness.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services