Bells Palsy



The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be a result of an infection that affects the nerve. Herpes simplex virus and Lyme disease are some examples.

Risk Factors

The risk of bell palsy may be highest in:

  • Those with diabetes
  • Third trimester of pregnancy



Symptoms may start all at once or get worse over 48 hours. People may have:

  • Twitching, weakness, or paralysis, most often on 1 side
  • Drooping corner of the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Drooping or problems closing an eye, which can cause dry eye
  • Excess tears from an eye
  • Loss of taste
  • Sensitivity to sounds
  • Pain in the jaw or ear
  • Headache
  • Dizziness


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Some people may need to see an eye specialist.



Bell palsy can get better on its own within a few weeks. Full healing may take 3 to 6 months. Treatment may be needed to manage more severe symptoms.

  • Corticosteroids may be given to ease swelling. They may be given with antiviral medicine to ease severe symptoms in some people.
  • Eye care may be needed if they eyelid cannot close properly. Eye care may include:
    • Lubricant or eye drops
    • Covering and taping the eye closed at night
    • An eye patch to keep the eye closed
  • Physical therapy may be needed. Facial exercises can help during recovery.


There are no methods to prevent Bell palsy.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.