Bell’s palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis affecting the facial nerve that results in the inability to control facial muscles on one side of the face. This condition typically presents with a rapid onset, occurring within hours to days, and is typically caused by the herpes simplex virus. Symptoms may include difficulty making facial expressions, pain around the jaw or behind the ear on the affected side, an increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side, headache, a decreased ability to taste, and changes in the production of tears or saliva. In rare cases, Bell’s palsy can affect the nerves on both sides of the face.
The most common cause of Bell’s palsy is the herpes simplex virus.
Normally, mild cases of Bell’s palsy disappear within a month. Complications may include irreversible damage to the facial nerve or misdirected regrowth of nerve fibers, resulting in involuntary contraction of muscles when trying to move other muscles. In rare occasions, partial or complete blindness of the eye that won’t close may ensue due to excessive dryness and scratching of the cornea.
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