Facial Nerve Disorders/Bell's Palsy

Facial nerve issues occur when the facial or cranial nerves are disrupted or aggravated. There are numerous possible causes, including infections, injuries, tumors, and strokes, though the most common is a condition known as Bell’s palsy. Facial paralysis can affect anybody, but is most prominent in people over 40, pregnant women, and those with diabetes, upper respiratory disorders, and weakened immune systems.

Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is a non-progressive neurological disorder of one of the facial nerves. It affects an estimated 30,000–40,000 people each year across the U.S. This disorder is characterized by the sudden onset of facial paralysis that may be preceded by a slight fever, pain behind the ear on the affected side, a stiff neck, and weakness and/or stiffness on one side of the face. Paralysis results from decreased blood supply (ischemia) and/or compression of the seventh cranial nerve.

The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is not known. Viral and immune disorders are frequently considered likely causes, while inherited conditions may also be responsible in some cases.

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:

  • Muscle weakness or paralysis

  • Facial droopiness or swelling

  • Difficulty blinking or closing one eye

  • Twitching of facial muscles

  • Trouble speaking, eating, and drinking

  • Sensitivity to sound

  • Ear pain

  • Drooling

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