Although the exact reason Bell's palsy occurs isn't clear, it's often linked to exposure to a viral infection. Viruses that have been linked to Bell's palsy include the virus that causes:
- Cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex)
- Chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster)
- Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr)
- Cytomegalovirus infections
- Respiratory illnesses (adenovirus)
- German measles (rubella)
- Mumps (mumps virus)
- Flu (influenza B)
- Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (coxsackievirus)
With Bell's palsy, the nerve that controls your facial muscles, which passes through a narrow corridor of bone on its way to your face, becomes inflamed and swollen — usually related to a viral infection. Besides facial muscles, the nerve affects tears, saliva, taste and a small bone in the middle of your ear.
Dec. 16, 2014
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- AskMayoExpert. What is the initial therapy recommended for patients with Bell palsy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.