Living With Bell's Palsy

Bell's Palsy is a harmless condition that causes muscle weakness or paralysis in some facial muscles. It can sometimes be alarming, especially when brought on suddenly, where parents experience one side of their face drooping.  Bell's Palsy is also called facial nerve paralysis or seventh nerve paralysis. This is where smiling may appear as a sneer. Symptoms tend to include weakness and paralysis on one side of the face, dropping eyelid and mouth, drooling, difficulty speaking, eating and drinking, dry mouth, eye dryness or tearing, difficulty tasting, pain in the jaw, headache, ringing in the ears and an increased sensitivity to sound. 

This condition happens when one of the nerves that control the facial muscles become irritated and swollen. Experts are unsure as to why this happens but speculation has highlighted it could be related to an unusual reaction to a common virus. It's not necessarily a serious medical condition but it can be upsetting and embarrassing. 

It usually clears up on its own within a few weeks or months. Treatment can also help but anyone with symptoms should visit their doctor right away. Sometimes, the symptoms can be hard to distinguish from a stroke. 


This condition often starts suddenly and it can cause a person to suddenly wake up in the morning with facial paralysis. The key thing to remember is Bell's Palsy only affects one side of the face and making it talking and eating may be difficult. It can also cause dry eyes but a person can't blink normally. Symptoms are usually worst in the first few days. Mild cases will go away within a week. Others can take months. 

Who is at risk for Bell's Palsy? Thsoe with colds, flu, diabetes, ear infections, high blood pressure, Lyme disease, head trauma, sarcoidosis, tumors and pregnancy are most at risk. To diagnose this, your doctor will ask questions and examine you. You may need blood tests, an EMG, CT scan, or MRI.

About 40,000 people in the U.S. develop Bell's Palsy every year. For treatment, steroids, antiviral medicines, controlling an underlying cause such as an infection, pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, eye drops and gels, taping the eye closed when sleeping and physical therapy. 

At home remedies can also help. Some patients use rewetting eye drops, artificial tears or wearing an eye path while they sleep. Over-the-counter painkillers can also help. Moist heat applied to the muscles may be soothing. Exercise and deep breathing will reduce stress which will help relieve the potential of this reviving.