Bell's Palsy (Facial Nerve Paralysis)
Bell’s palsy is a paralysis of the facial nerve, the nerve that supplies the facial muscles on one side of the face. Bell’s palsy is also called facial nerve paralysis. The cause of facial nerve paralysis is often not known, but is thought to be due to a virus. The facial nerve is the 7th cranial nerve. The disease typically starts suddenly and causes paralysis of the muscles of the side of the face on which the facial nerve is affected. Treatment is directed toward protecting the eye on the affected side from dryness during sleep. Massage of affected muscles can reduce soreness. Sometimes prednisone is given to reduce inflammation during the first weeks of illness. The prognosis (outlook) with Bell’s palsy is generally good. About 80% of patients recover within weeks to months. It causes the eyelid and the angle of the mouth on the affected side to droop. I had this in medical school at age 23. It slowly cleared up over the following 20 years. I had this problem as a 23 year old medical student. It resolves slowly over years and still you can see some assymetry. A person famous in the athletic world who has a dramatic and life-long Bell’s palsy is John David Crow, the Texas A. and M. fullback who won the Heisman Trophy in 1957: John David Crow. Notice the left side of the mouth droops even though the photo was made to minimize the appearance of assymetry. In fact, it give John the rugged manly appearance for which he is famous. John’s is a partial Bell’s palsy as his eyelid is not affected.