Bell palsy

Bell palsy

      abrupt paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face due to dysfunction of the seventh cranial nerve, the facial nerve. The disorder is named for the Scottish surgeon Sir Charles Bell, who first described the function of the facial nerve in 1829. The facial nerve supplies the muscles of movement and expression of the face. It also has sensory components that supply taste to the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and sensation in a small area around the ear. In addition, a small nerve extends to a muscle attached to one of the bones of the middle ear, and autonomic fibres extend to salivary and tear glands. A person with Bell palsy may notice pain around the ear, alterations in taste, sensitivity to sound, and inability to use the facial muscles. There is trouble in closing the eye, wrinkling the forehead, and pulling up the corners of the mouth. Food tends to accumulate in the affected side of the mouth. The face has an ironed-out appearance.

      No cause can be found in the majority of cases of Bell palsy, but facial paralysis may be caused by trauma, which can injure the facial nerve where it passes through the base of the skull; tumours (tumour) (e.g., acoustic neurinomas), which may invade or compress the nerve; and various infections, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, diphtheria, Lyme disease, ear infections, sarcoidosis, and herpes simplex. Rarely, a flulike illness may precede the onset of Bell palsy.

      Treatment during the acute phase is directed toward protection of the eye, since incomplete closure of the lid may lead to irritation and inflammation of the cornea. Eyedrops are useful, and the lid may be taped or even sutured shut until recovery is complete. The use of steroids in the treatment of Bell palsy is still controversial. If a herpes infection is suspected, an antiviral medication may be used. More than 80 percent of patients with Bell palsy recover completely, and others have partial recovery. In cases where recovery is not complete, surgical decompression of the facial nerve has been tried, though with limited success.

Robert Joynt

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bell palsy — unilateral facial paralysis of sudden onset, due to lesion of the facial nerve and resulting in characteristic distortion of the face …   Medical dictionary

  • Bell's palsy — Infobox Disease Name = Bell s Palsy Caption = DiseasesDB = 1303 ICD10 = ICD10|G|51|0|g|50 ICD9 = ICD9|351.0 ICDO = OMIM = MedlinePlus = 000773 eMedicineSubj = emerg eMedicineTopic = 56 eMedicine plus = eMedicine2|neuro|413 eMedicine2|ent|719… …   Wikipedia

  • Bell phenomenon — an outward and upward rolling of the eyeball on the attempt to close the eye; it occurs on the affected side in peripheral facial paralysis (Bell palsy) …   Medical dictionary

  • Bell's palsy — Palsy Pal sy, n.; pl. {Palsies}. [OE. palesie, parlesy, OF. paralesie, F. paralysie, L. paralysis. See {Paralysis}.] (Med.) Paralysis, complete or partial. See {Paralysis}. One sick of the palsy. Mark ii. 3. [1913 Webster] {Bell s palsy},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Palsy — Pal sy, n.; pl. {Palsies}. [OE. palesie, parlesy, OF. paralesie, F. paralysie, L. paralysis. See {Paralysis}.] (Med.) Paralysis, complete or partial. See {Paralysis}. One sick of the palsy. Mark ii. 3. [1913 Webster] {Bell s palsy}, paralysis of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bell's palsy — Paralysis of the facial nerve, producing distortion of one side of the face. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bell's palsy — n. [after Charles Bell (1774 1842), Scot anatomist who identified it] a usually temporary, sudden paralysis of the facial nerve resulting in weakened or paralyzed muscles on one side of the face …   English World dictionary

  • Bell-Magendie law — Bell Ma·gen·die law bel .mȧ zhan dē n BELL S LAW Bell Sir Charles (1774 1842) British anatomist. Bell was the leading anatomist of his time as well as an eminent surgeon. In 1802 he published a series of engravings showing the anatomy of the… …   Medical dictionary

  • Bell'spalsy — Bell s palsy n. A unilateral facial muscle paralysis of sudden onset, resulting from trauma, compression, or infection of the facial nerve and characterized by muscle weakness and a distorted facial expression.   [After Sir Charles Bell (1774… …   Universalium

  • Bell's palsy — Bell s′ pal′sy n. pat suddenly occurring paralysis that distorts one side of the face, caused by a lesion of the facial nerve • Etymology: 1855–60; after Charles Bell (1774–1842), Scottish anatomist, who first described it …   From formal English to slang

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