ZocdocAnswersWhat causes Bell's palsy?

Question

What causes Bell's palsy?

My girlfriend recently recovered from having Bell's palsy. What causes this? Is there something more should she be tested for if she had Bell's palsy? Does it mean that something serious could be wrong with her brain?

Answer

Bell's palsy is a neurological disease specifically of the facial nerve. The facial nerve is a nerve that controls most of the facial muscles, specifically the ones that are involved in facial expression. People with Bell's palsy cannot move the muscles of one side of their face, which results in drooping of the face. Many conditions such as a brain tumor or a stroke can cause drooping of the face. When the cause of the facial paralysis cannot be found, it is called Bell's Palsy. It is believed that most of the time Bell's Palsy is caused by infection with a herpes type virus or the varicella virus. The prognosis of Bell's Palsy is quite good. Over 2/3 of people experience full recovery within a year and more after that. It sounds like your girlfriend had a full recovery from her paralysis making her the typical Bell's Palsy patient. If she has recovered, there is nothing else that needs to be done. Since Bell's Palsy effects the facial nerve and not the brain itself, her brain should be fine. The best physician for your girlfriend to see about this problem is a neurologist. This is the type of specialist that is best equipped to monitor her for recovery, and make sure the symptoms don't come back.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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