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.
Mar. 27, 2012
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Bell's palsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/bells/detail_bells.htm. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Ronthal M. Bell's palsy: Prognosis and treatment in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Bell's palsy. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/neuro-ophthalmologic_and_cranial_nerve_disorders/bells_palsy.html?qt=&sc=&alt= . Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Numthavaj P, et al. Corticosteroid and antiviral therapy for Bell's palsy: A network meta-analysis. BMC Neurology. 2011;11:1
- Van der Veen EL, et al. A small effect of adding antiviral agents in treating patients with severe bell palsy. Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. In press. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- McAllister K, et al. Surgical interventions for the early management of Bell's palsy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011;(2):CD007468. http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
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