by Kimberly Allen, RN
Bell´s palsy is a type of facial paralysis that has also been called facial palsy. It can develop at any age, though it occurs more frequently in pregnant women in their third trimester or in the first week after giving birth. Also, people with an upper respiratory infection like a cold or the flu tend to develop Bell´s palsy more often than people that don´t have an upper respiratory infection. There are also people with a family history of Bell´s palsy. Those with a family history are prone to recurrent attacks. It is the most common disease involving one nerve only and is the most common cause of sudden onset facial paralysis. In the US approximately 40,000 people are diagnosed with Bell´s palsy every year with a familial inheritance occurring in up to 14% of the cases. It is also 4 times more commonly diagnosed in diabetics than in non diabetics.
The exact cause of Bell´s palsy is not clear, however, it is not cause by a stroke or TIA. Most experts believe it is linked to a viral infection like herpes simples, herpes zoster, Epsein Barr and rubella as well as the mumps and the flu. In Bells palsy the 7th cranial nerve which controls your facial muscles becomes inflamed and swollen causing it to be dysfunctional. In addition to affecting your facial muscles the 7th cranial nerve also affects your tears, taste and saliva as well as the small bone in your middle ear.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.