Bell’s palsy is a type of paralysis which causes sudden weakness in a person’s facial muscles. It is caused by a flaw in the seventh cranial nerve, which is also known as the facial nerve. A physician typically needs to assess an infant and formerly diagnose Bell’s palsy, but there are many telltale signs and symptoms you can look out for.
Common Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy
It’s important to note that not all infants will experience every symptom of Bell’s palsy. While some may experience a wide range of symptoms, other babies may only exhibit a few. Some of the most common symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:
Inability to Control Facial Muscles
The principal symptom of Bell’s palsy is a sudden drooping of the facial muscles on one side of a person’s face. In rare cases, Bell’s palsy affects both sides of the facial area. It typically occurs within a matter of hours or days. Some patients may feel pain in front or behind the ear before the main symptom manifests itself. Others may not feel any warning signs prior to the paralysis of the facial muscle. When the facial paralysis occurs, a person becomes unable to smile or close the eye on the affected side.
Difficulty in Making Facial Expressions
The seventh cranial nerve controls various muscular functions. These include moving the facial muscles that allows a person to raise the eyebrows, open and shut the eyelids, frown, flare the nostrils, cry, salivate, or smile. When the nerve is inflamed and triggers the onset of Bell’s palsy, it paralyzes all the muscles under its control and renders a person unable to blink, wink, or make any facial expressions. In addition, the weak, affected side of the face may twitch or seem to be “pulled” because the strong, unaffected side can still try to make facial expressions.
Pain Around the Ear or Jaw
Bell’s palsy can manifest itself by causing pain in various areas on a person’s face. In some individuals, pain occurs in or around the ear on the affected side. In others, the pain is felt around the jaw.
Hyperacusis and Impaired Sense of Taste
The facial nerve also stimulates muscles in the inner ear called stapes. These help deliver taste sensations to most of the tongue. If the stapes on the affected side are overly stimulated as a result of Bell’s palsy, sounds entering the corresponding ear are louder than normal. Innervated stapedial muscles can also fail to deliver sensory information to the front part of the tongue and impairs the sense of taste.
Difficulty in Production of Tears and/or Saliva
Inflammation of the cranial nerve affects a person’s ability to control the production of tears and/or saliva. The nerve carries impulses to the lacrimal and salivary glands. Depending on the severity of the loss of nerve impulses to the tear ducts or the salivary glands, Bell’s palsy can inhibit tear production, thus causing dryness in the eye on the affected side. Conversely, tear production may increase, causing excessive tearing in that eye.
Saliva production can either be reduced or increased, depending on the severity of the condition. Loss of muscle control near the salivary glands affects how much saliva a patient can make. This often results in excessive drooling. This makes eating difficult, especially in situations where too much saliva is produced. However, when Bell’s palsy inhibits the production of saliva, the mouth is dry and swallowing food becomes difficult.
Bell’s palsy frequently causes headaches because the paralysis causes tensions to the muscles on one side of the face.
Bell’s palsy can also cause a sensation of dizziness when the facial nerve is inflamed. The condition interferes with nerve impulses to the inner ear, which is the part of the body that regulates balance.
Bell’s palsy is usually a temporary condition. The less severe cases typically disappear within a month after its occurrence. In cases where total facial paralysis takes place, the effects of the illness may vary.
Complications stemming from severe cases of Bell’s palsy include:
- Chronic loss of taste
- Irreversible damage to the cranial nerve
- Synkinesis (misdirected regrowth of the nerves that causes involuntary facial movements)
- Partial or total loss of sight in the eye that won’t close