Bell palsy is a paralysis of the seventh cranial nerve. The most obvious feature of bell palsy is weakness and drooping of one half of the face. Some cases of bell palsy also involve decreased sensation of the skin of the face, decreased taste, decreased hearing on the affected side, decreased tear production, and decreased production of saliva. Most cases of bell palsy are probably caused by an infection. The cold sore virus (HSV 1), HSV 6, and the chicken pox virus (herpes zoster) are the most commonly blamed viruses. Most cases of bell palsy in children are temporary with approximately 60-70 percent of cases with full recovery.
What is bell palsy and what causes it?
Bell policy is a paralysis of the seventh cranial nerve. It is most often cause by a viral infection that affects the facial nerve. The cold sore virus (HSV 1), HSV 6, and the chicken pox virus (herpes zoster) are the most commonly blamed viruses. Bell palsy is typically temporary with resolution of symptoms within several weeks.
What are the symptoms of bell palsy?
- Bell palsy typically develops over several hours or 2 to 3 days
- Drooping of one side of the face
- Inability to move one side of the face (especially noticeable when the child tries to smile)
- Inability to fully close the mouth
- Loss of feeling of the skin on the face (50% of cases)
- Loss of taste
- Loss of tear production in the eye on the affected side
- Inability to fully close the eye on the affected side
- Decreased production of saliva and dry mouth
- Pain below and behind the ear on the affected side
How is bell palsy diagnosed?
- In most cases the diagnosis is obvious.
- MRI of the head is rarely necessary.
- Your position should evaluate your child for other symptoms that may suggest a brain abnormality.
How is bell palsy treated?
- Most cases of bell palsy do not require treatment. Symptoms typically resolve over several weeks.
- There's little evidence that antibiotics, antiviral medications, or corticosteroids help with this condition.
- Some cases of bell palsy may be caused by Lyme disease. These cases should receive antibiotics.
- If tear production is reduced, an eye lubricant may be needed.
Should my child see a neurologist?
In general children may need to see a neurologist if their recovery time is prolonged or the symptoms are not typical.
Can bell palsy happen more than once?
Up to 7% of children with the bell palsy will develop bell palsy again in the future.
Last Updated (Friday, 04 June 2010 20:46)