Facial nerve palsy is a nervous system condition that restricts the movement in the muscles of the face. It can also affect feeling inside the ear canal and interfere with a person’s sense of taste. It’s estimated that facial nerve palsy affects around 40,000 people each year.
Here, we share information regarding causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and more to help you navigate your treatment and care.
Facial nerve palsy can be caused by conditions such as HIV, Lyme disease, sarcoidosis, or stroke. But it some cases, it may have no identifiable cause. Growths such as a tumor can also put pressure on facial nerves, causing palsy.
Symptoms of facial nerve palsy include difficulty in moving the face, including closing an eye, smiling or making expressions, facial drooping, or paralysis on one side. You may have trouble eating due to muscle weakness around the mouth, or your face may feel stiff or “pulled.”
Other less obvious symptoms include: headache, loudness in one ear, pain behind the ear, sound sensitivity and an impaired sense of taste.
Proper diagnosis of facial nerve palsy requires the expertise of a medical professional. During your appointment, tests will be done to see if you have any of the possible causes, including Lyme disease. Your doctor may also conduct tests to rule out stroke as a possible factor. You could be required to undergo an MRI or lumbar puncture, and you’ll be examined for facial drooping.
There are many things that can be done to help treat and manage facial nerve palsy. The condition may even go away on its own depending on the severity of the damage to the nerve.
Depending on when the condition is caught, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, drops to lubricate the eye if its affected, or antiviral medications. If a tumor is pressing on the facial nerve, surgery may be required.
If you’ve got more questions regarding any type of facial paralysis, including treatment options unique to you, give our offices a call today. Dr. O and our team specialize in the personalized and compassionate diagnosis and treatment of facial nerve conditions, and our certified and trained specialists are standing by to help get you the care you need.