What Is Bell's Palsy?

By albert
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Bell’s palsy is a facial paralysis resulting from the damage or trauma of the 7th cranial nerve or the facial nerve. The nerve moves through the fallopian canal, a narrow, bony canal in the skull beneath the lobule of the ear, then moves to the sides of the face. The nerve is responsible for controlling many facial expressions such as eye blinking and closing, smiling, frowning, and carrying nerve impulses to the tear glands and salivary glands. It is also important for hearing because it carries nerve impulses to the muscles of the stapes, a small bone in the middle ear, and nerve impulses from the tongue to the brain.

Damage or trauma to this cranial nerve causes a disruption of all these functions. This condition is called Bell’s palsy. When Bell’s palsy develops, the above facial functions are disrupted. This means that nerve impulses reaching the facial muscles are interrupted such that they no longer have the intended effect. This leads to facial paralysis or weakness.

1. Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is characterized by the one-sided facial drop occurring within the first 72 hours. In rare instances, Bell’s palsy affects both sides, causing complete facial paralysis. The patient loses control over a number of functions including blinking, closing the eyes, smiling, frowning, lacrimation, raising eyebrows, and salivation.

Additionally, the patient loses taste sensation in the anterior two thirds of the tongue on the affected side. This occurs because a branch of the facial nerve, or chorda tympani nerve, carries the taste sensations from this particular area. Loss of feeling in the face, headache, tearing, pain around the jaw, in or behind your ear on the affected side, drooling, and hypersensitivity to sound are among the more common symptoms.

Bell's Palsy

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