Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s Palsy

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Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is a nerve disorder that usually happens suddenly and without warning. This condition occurs when a nerve that controls facial movement is damaged. Nerve damage can occur for many reasons. But most cases of Bell’s palsy are probably caused by a virus.

Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy

  • Mild weakness to total paralysis of one side of your face

  • Drooping mouth, drooling on one side of mouth

  • Trouble closing one eye

  • Noises seeming louder than usual

  • Change in your sense of taste

When to go to the emergency department (ED)

Bell’s palsy rarely requires emergency treatment. However, there are conditions, such as stroke, that may look like Bell's Palsy and are medical emergencies. Therefore, you should seek emergent medical care if you notice facial weakness or drooping. Although Bell’s palsy can be alarming, it’s rarely serious. Many people begin to improve in about 2 weeks, even without treatment.


To treat Bell’s palsy, you may be given steroid medications. This helps reduce swelling of the affected nerve. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication. Your open eye may be covered with a patch to prevent it from drying out. You also may need to use eyedrops and ointments for a time. Your doctor will discuss follow-up care with you, including the possible need for further treatment to help your facial muscles return to normal.

To learn more about Bell’s palsy, contact:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Division of the National Institutes of Health