Facial Paralysis and Lyme Disease

With COVID-19 restrictions being placed on all Americans during this period, many people are choosing to spend a lot of time outdoors. Being outdoors is a fantastic way to naturally receive Vitamin D, enjoy the fresh air and comfortable temperatures, and remain physically active when many other things are limited. However, spending a lot of time outdoors can also lead to an unwanted occurrence: Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is caused by the bite of an infected tick. The first symptoms of Lyme disease are relatively mild: a headache, fever, rash, and fatigue. Yet, if Lyme disease is not treated early, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous symptom. Facial paralysis caused by Lyme disease is categorized as “facial palsy.” Facial palsy is a general term referring to the weakening of the facial muscles. Lyme disease that attacks the nervous system can cause the facial nerve not to function correctly, and the facial muscles consequently will not function normally. Any time you feel that something is not right with any part of your face, please do not ignore it. Facial palsy can be preceded by pain behind the ear and can manifest within 48 hours with some or all of the following characteristics present:

  • Numbness in any area of the face
  • Inability to control eyelids
  • Lack of facial expression; the inability to smile or frown
  • As each side of the face is controlled by its own individual facial nerve, symptoms usually present on only one side of the face

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection; therefore, it requires antibiotic therapy. It is not treated in the same way that Bell’s Palsy is treated because a virus causes Bell’s Palsy. Because of the differences in Lyme disease-associated facial palsy and Bell’s Palsy, an accurate diagnosis is necessary in order to provide the required medical treatment.

If you have had facial paralysis associated with Lyme disease, contact our practice today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Teresa O, New York Facial Paralysis Center

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