Facial paralysis is the total loss of voluntary movement of the facial muscles, whereas facial paresis is only partial loss of the facial muscles. Characteristics of facial paralysis include difficulty moving the face, inability to hold water in the mouth, difficulty closing the eyes, along with facial motionlessness and numbness.
Facial paralysis can come on suddenly (in the case of Bell’s palsy, for example) or can happen gradually over a period of months (in the case of a head or neck tumor). Depending on the cause, the paralysis might last a short or extended period of time.
No one knows exactly why Bell’s palsy occurs. It may be related to a viral infection of the facial nerve. The good news is that most patients with Bell’s palsy recover completely in about six months.
Facial paralysis has a major impact on a person’s quality of life. Other symptoms are:
- facial pain
- headaches or dizziness
- earaches, ringing in one or both ears, and sensitivity to sound
- difficulty talking
- inability to express emotion
- difficulty eating or drinking
- muscle twitching
- tearing of the eye
- dryness of the eye and mouth
Patients who aren’t able to close their affected eye will need to take extra care to help prevent long-lasting eye damage.
Facial paralysis can be caused by Bell’s Palsy:
- skull fracture or injury to the face
- head or neck tumor
- chronic middle ear infection or other ear damage
- high blood pressure
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