Pediatric Bell’s Palsy

Pediatric Bell’s Palsy

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Summary

Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes sudden weakness and drooping on one side of the face.

Expanded overview

Bell’s palsy causes one half of the face to suddenly become weak and appear to droop. The eye on the affected side will be unable to close and the mouth will be unable to form a smile. In most cases, the paralysis is temporary and resolves completely within six months. However, some children continue to experience Bell’s palsy symptoms for the rest of their lives, or symptoms can recur over time. Very rarely, the condition affects the entire face.

Causes

Though the exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, experts think that it’s a result of swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls muscles on that side of the face. In some cases, the condition occurs as a reaction to a viral infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Bell’s palsy appear suddenly, at any age, and usually begin to resolve within two weeks. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Changes in the amount of tears or saliva produced
  • Decreased ability to taste
  • Difficulty making normal facial expressions, such as smiling or closing one eye
  • Drooling
  • Drooping of one side of the face
  • Headache
  • Increased sensitivity to sound on the affected side
  • Pain around the jaw or in or behind the ear on the affected side
  • Sudden weakness or paralysis of one side of the face, occurring within hours or days

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