Bell’s palsy is a paralysis in the muscles on one side of the face caused by damage to the cranial nerve that controls the muscles in the face 14. Inflammation of the nerve may occur due to a virus, but often the cause is unknown. Most often, Bell’s palsy will resolve without medical treatment 14. The symptoms will go away within a few weeks to months in around 60 to 80 percent of individuals affected by the condition, according to MedlinePlus 1. Some treatments such as antiviral medications or corticosteroids can help relieve pressure, but may not speed the recovery of the condition. Home treatments can relieve symptoms and discomfort caused by Bell’s palsy 14.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Due to the paralysis or weakness in the facial muscles, some individuals may experience difficulty in blinking or closing the eye completely. The eyes may also dry out due to a decrease in tear production. Measures to protect the eye help treat the condition. Using an eye patch will protect the eye from harm if it does not close correctly. Some individuals may wear the eye patch during the night, according to the Academy of Family Physicians. Other options for closing the eye include closing it periodically with a finger or taping it closed. Wearing sunglasses when outdoors will help protect it from harsh sunlight. Applying eye drops or ointment to increase moisture relieves discomfort to dry eyes and helps wash out debris.
- Due to the paralysis or weakness in the facial muscles, some individuals may experience difficulty in blinking or closing the eye completely.
- Applying eye drops or ointment to increase moisture relieves discomfort to dry eyes and helps wash out debris.
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Applying heat to the face may help treat Bell’s palsy 14. Using a heating pad set to a low setting or heated gel packs will help relieve swelling at the affected nerve and can help relieve pain. Moist heat, such as a warm, wet washcloth can also help. Some individuals experience pain behind the ear with Bell’s palsy and heat therapy can help stop this discomfort 14. Massaging the area after the heat may also improve circulation to the affected muscles.
Using physical therapy on the facial muscles can help stimulate the affected nerve and help improve or maintain muscle tone, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. In addition to increasing blood flow, massaging the facial muscles can help relax facial muscles contracted by Bell’s palsy 14. A therapist may also suggest exercises for the facial muscles for the individual to practice at home, in order to maintain the muscles' tone.
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- MedlinePlus: Bell's Palsy
- American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery: Insight into Facial Nerve Disorders
- MayoClinic.com: Bell's Palsy: Lifestyle and Home Remedies
- Merck Manuals: Bell's Palsy
- National Institutes of Health. Bell’s Palsy Fact Sheet. Updated March 13, 2020.
- Harvard Medical School. What to do about Bell's palsy. 2010.
- MedlinePlus. Bell Palsy. Updated March 4, 2020.
- De Seta D, Mancini P, Minni A, et al. Bell’s Palsy: Symptoms Preceding and Accompanying the Facial Paresis. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:801971. doi:10.1155/2014/801971
- Rubin M. Bell Palsy. Merck Manual Consumer Version. Updated May 2019.
- Jeon Y, Lee H. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. J Dent Anesth Pain Med. 2018;18(6):333-337. doi:10.17245/jdapm.2018.18.6.333
- Yoo HW, Yoon L, Kim HY, et al. Comparison of conservative therapy and steroid therapy for Bell's palsy in children. Korean J Pediatr. 2018;61(10):332-337. doi:10.3345/kjp.2018.06380
- Holland NJ, Bernstein JM. Bell's palsy. BMJ Clin Evid. 2014;2014:1204.
- Albers JR, Tamang S. Common Questions About Bell Palsy. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Feb 1;89(3):209-12.
- Maller T, Goldenstein S, Ronen O. Prevalence and characteristics of hearing loss in patients diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2018 Jan;275(1):99-102. doi:10.1007/s00405-017-4816-0. Epub 2017 Nov 21.
- Pavlidis P, Cámara RJA, Kekes G, Gouveris H. Bilateral taste disorders in patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome and Bell palsy. Ann Neurol. 2018 Apr;83(4):807-815. doi:10.1002/ana.25210. Epub 2018 Apr 10.
- Salinas RA, Alvarez G, Daly F, Ferreira J. Corticosteroids for Bell's palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Mar 17;(3):CD001942. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001942.pub4
- Zandian A et al. The neurologist’s dilemma: A comprehensive clinical review of Bell’s palsy, with emphasis on current management trends. Med Sci Monit. 2014;20:83-90. doi:10.12659/MSM.889876
Abigail Adams began her freelance writing career in 2009, teaching others about medical conditions and promoting wellness by writing on online health and fitness publications. She is educated and licensed as a registered nurse, having received her degree from North Georgia College and State University.