Facial-nerve or Cranial-nerve Disorders
What are facial-nerve or cranial-nerve disorders?
The most common facial or cranial-nerve disorder is Bell’s palsy, which is a sudden weakness or paralysis of one side of the face. Bell’s palsy occurs when the muscles in your face become irritated or swollen. What causes this irritation and swelling isn’t known for certain, but it is believed that the herpes simplex virus may be involved. People with colds, influenza, diabetes, and women who are pregnant are at an increased risk for Bell’s palsy.
What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy?
Symptoms for Bell’s palsy include:
- Weakness or paralysis on one side of your face.
- Drooping of one side of your face.
- Trouble closing your eye on the affected side of your face.
- More sensitive hearing on the affected side.
- Numbness or pain in your ear, tongue, or face.
- A decrease in the amount of tears and saliva you make.
- No ability to taste with the front part of your tongue.
- Problems chewing food.
How is Bell’s palsy diagnosed?
People with Bell’s palsy may notice pain around their ear one to two days before symptoms are presented. Weakness may appear on the same side of their face as the ear pain. The symptoms often increase over the following several days. Bell’s palsy can last anywhere from two weeks to several months.
If it is suspected that you have Bell’s palsy, your healthcare provider may test how well you can move different parts of your face. They may also measure the electrical activity of your facial muscles by doing an electromyography (EMG). An EMG also tests the nerves that control muscles.
How is Bell’s palsy treated?
Bell’s palsy often goes away without treatment. However, some treatments may help you get better faster. Eye drops, eye protection, medication, and physical therapy all may help lessen the effects of Bell’s palsy.
Preparing for Care
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Weakness or numbness on one side of your body (other than your face).
- Double vision, or you lose vision in your eye.
- Trouble thinking clearly.
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience:
- You have a fever.
- Your eye becomes red, irritated, or painful.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.