What Is Bell Palsy?

Bell palsy is a temporary episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis related to a damaged or malfunctioning facial nerve. The pain and discomfort is usually isolated to one side of the face or head.

Bell palsy occurs equally in adult men and women under age 60, but it’s most often found in people who have the flu, cold or other upper respiratory ailment. It also sometimes occurs in people with diabetes and pregnant women. There are about 40,000 cases of Bell palsy diagnosed in the United States each year.

The pain, weakness and paralysis of Bell palsy usually begins to disappear in two weeks to six months, and patients generally recover full facial expression and strength. Rarely, Bell palsy does not disappear. There is no known cure for the symptoms that do not disappear on their own.