Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
Articles » NINDS Bell's Palsy Information Page: NINDS

NINDS Bell's Palsy Information Page: NINDS

Article title: NINDS Bell's Palsy Information Page: NINDS

Conditions: Bell's palsy

What is Bell's Palsy?
Bell's palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from damage to the 7th (facial) cranial nerve. This nerve disorder afflicts approximately 40,000 Americans each year. It can strike almost anyone at any age; however, it disproportionately attacks pregnant women and people who have diabetes, influenza, a cold, or some other upper respiratory ailment. In addition to one-sided facial paralysis with possible inability to close the eye, symptoms of Bell's palsy may include pain, tearing, drooling, hypersensitivity to sound in the affected ear, and impairment of taste. Researchers in Japan identified the common cold sore virus, herpes simplex, as the likely cause of most cases of Bell's palsy.

Is there any treatment?
Recent studies (Neurology 2001 Apr 10;56(7):830-836) have shown that steroids are probably effective and that the drug acyclovir (combined with prednisone) is possibly effective in improving facial function. Other treatments are usually aimed at protecting the eye from drying at nighttime. Some physicians may prescribe a corticosteroid drug to help reduce inflammation and an analgesic to relieve pain.

What is the prognosis?
The prognosis for Bell's palsy is generally very good. With or without treatment, most patients begin to get significantly better within 2 weeks, and about 80 percent recover completely within 3 months. For some, however, the symptoms may last longer. In a few cases, the symptoms may never completely disappear.

What research is being done?
The NINDS supports an extensive research program of basic studies to increase understanding of how the nervous system works. A major goal of this research is to develop methods for repairing damaged nerves and restoring full use and strength to injured areas.


Bell's Palsy Research Foundation
9121 East Tanque Verde
Suite 105-286
Tucson, AZ 85749
Tel: 877-412-5335
Fax: 954-337-7803

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 8923
(100 Route 37)
New Fairfield, CT 06812-8923
Tel: 203-746-6518 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-746-6481

This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided by:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892


By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise