Bell palsy is a sudden weakness on one side of the face.
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The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be a result of an infection that affects the nerve. Herpes simplex virus and Lyme disease are some examples.
The risk of bell palsy may be highest in:
Symptoms may start all at once or get worse over 48 hours. People may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Some people may need to see an eye specialist.
Bell palsy can get better on its own within a few weeks. Full healing may take 3 to 6 months. Treatment may be needed to manage more severe symptoms.
There are no methods to prevent Bell palsy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Public Health Agency of Canada
Bell's palsy. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/bells-palsy.html. Accessed October 11, 2020.
Bell's palsy. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1465. Accessed October 11, 2020.
Bell’s palsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Bells-Palsy-Information-Page. Accessed October 11, 2020.
de Almeida JR, Guyatt GH, et al. Management of Bell palsy: clinical practice guideline. CMAJ. 2014 Sep 2;186(12):917-922.
Schwartz SR, Jones SL, Getchius TS, Gronseth GS. Reconciling the clinical practice guidelines on Bell’s palsy from the AA-HNSF and the AAN. Neurology. 2014;82(21):1927-1929.
Last reviewed October 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 12/12/2020