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What are the symptoms of Bell's palsy?

The symptoms of Bell's palsy can be similar to a number of other conditions, some of which, such as stroke, are very serious. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible, once symptoms are noticed, is important to rule out serious conditions and to make sure that treatment is as effective as possible. The symptoms of Bell's palsy, and their severity, vary between people. Usually, only one side of the face is affected, but in some rare cases it is observed on both sides. Typically, the symptoms develop suddenly, within hours and include: weakness or paralysis of facial muscles, usually on one side of the face; twitching of muscles; the face may feel numb, heavy, stiff or pulled to one side; the eyelid and the mouth droop on the affected side of the face; inability to blink or fully close the eye on the affected side of the face; difficulty eating, drinking, smiling or talking; drooling; food can taste different because of a reduction in the sense of taste in part of the tongue; Increased sensitivity to sound in the affected ear (hyperacusis), and pain around the ear on the affected side of the face (although this tends to disappear after a few days). Pain is more likely to occur with a herpes zoster infection in the ear, which can also cause Bell's Palsy. This is known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome.

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Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 19 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 14 May 2019
Rating: 4.4 out of 5
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Category: Shingles


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