What is Bell's Palsy?

Bell's Palsy is a nonprogressive neurological disorder of the 7th cranial nerve (a nerve in the face). It causes partial facial paralysis and afflicts approximately 40,000 Americans a year. Most people with Bell's Palsy develop a rapid onset of facial weakness. This usually takes place over several hours to a day, and in most cases it involves only one side of the face.

Who gets Bell's Palsy?

The cause of Bell's Palsy is unknown, however, viral infection, autoimmune disease, and micro-circulation problems are suspected causes. There is sometimes a family history of Bell's Palsy. Bell's Palsy can be recurrent (about 20% of those who suffer from Bell's Palsy will have a reoccurrence), and some people with Bell's Palsy have symptoms of a virus.

How is Bell's Palsy diagnosed?

Electrodiagnostic tests are used to assess how badly the nerve is damaged. Electrodiagnostic testing can help answer the question regarding the recovery time. Most people see some improvement of their weakness within 3 weeks of onset and the majority of people have excellent function 1 year later.

How is Bell's Palsy treated?

When patient develops Bell's Palsy they want to know what caused the weakness or paralysis, how long it will last, and what they can do to make it improve or what they should do until it improves. The most important treatment is to protect the eye. Tears keep your eyes moist through blinking. Often with Bell's Palsy the ability to blink is reduced or eliminated which can result in drying, erosion, and ulcer formation on the cornea and possible loss of the eye. Your doctor will often prescribe a lubricant for your eye.

More Information

Bell's Palsy Information Site
Bell's Palsy National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Help Fund Research
The American Neuromuscular Foundation (ANF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to STRENGTHENING the global effort to CURE neuromuscular disease.

The foundation funds important research and helps support education through awards and fellowship funding. Donate today and 100% of your donation will be used to support these initiatives.


Donate to the ANF
Find Support

AANEM's membership and accredited laboratory directories can help patients find qualified professionals for diagnosis and treatment.

Find a Doctor Find an Accredited Lab