Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How are Bells Palsy and the flu shot related?"
I've been interested in Bells Palsy ever since my younger sister developed it. I've heard things about a connection between Bells Palsy and the flu shot, but I haven't ever seen hard evidence. Is there a documented link that you can show me?
Bell's Palsy is a condition where a nerve which controls movement of the face muscles becomes defective. This nerve (called the facial nerve) gets trapped in the space where it exits that skull causing it to stop working. The result is facial droop on the side of the face effected. The inflammation that causes the nerve to stop working typically goes away in a few weeks and the symptoms begin to recover. Although we do not know exactly what causes Bell's Palsy, we think it is due to an infection with the herpes simplex virus, varicella virus (chicken pox virus) or the Ebstein Barr Virus (EBV). The flu shot has not been shown to be associated with the development of Bell's Palsy. There were 2 case studies (a publication about a single person) published a few years ago that mentioned a possible association with the flu shot when 2 people developed Bell's Palsy shortly after getting the vaccination. This association as not been seen consistently, and thus no one in the health care field feels that there is a risk of getting Bell's Palsy because of the vaccine. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss if the flu shot is right for you. In addition, you can discuss what potential side effects can arise from the vaccine.
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