• What Is Bell's Palsy?

    Dec. 10, 2012

    Bell's palsy is a temporary condition that causes certain muscles in your face to weaken or become paralyzed. With Bell's palsy, it appears as if half of your face is droopy and you can only smile with one side of your mouth. Usually, you cannot close the eye on that side of your face, and the lower eyelid may also turn outward (called ectropion). This condition can lead to excessive dry eye and tearing in the affected eye.

    Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls facial muscles on one side of your face (the seventh cranial nerve) swells or becomes inflamed. It can affect anyone, but mostly occurs in people between the ages of 15 and 60 years old. 

    Most people who have Bell's palsy find their symptoms improve within a few weeks and they recover completely in three to six months. Approximately 10 percent of people who have Bell's palsy once will get it again, either on the same side or the other side of the face.

    This condition rarely affects both sides of the face, however, it can happen. If this bilateral form of Bell's palsy occurs, or if any other part of the body becomes paralyzed, weak or numb, it is important for your doctor to rule out other causes.