While Bell's Palsy isn’t a common condition, it is a scary one that can come on quickly in children. That’s why we recommend parents know what to watch out for.
About 40,000 Americans get Bell’s Palsy each year, mostly between the ages of 15 and 60. It can also effect much younger children. It occurs when nerve trouble paralyzes one side of the face. In some people, this causes pain. Bell Palsy makes a person look different because one side of his or her face is either frozen or sags.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes Bell’s Palsy, but most believe it can be caused by anything that irritates the facial nerves. It may be brought on by a serious injury, the flu, diabetes, Lyme disease, ear infections, or viruses.
The good news about Bell’s Palsy is that it doesn’t last; the facial nerves repair themselves usually within two weeks to six months. There aren’t any specific treatments for this condition, except those to help a person feel better while they wait for the symptoms to clear. A doctor might recommend facial massages or eye drops. Symptoms might go away quite suddenly or disappear one by one. Most people regain full facial strength and expression.
People affected by Bell’s Palsy often feel worried they have had a stroke, which is when a blood vessel inside the brain is clogged or bursts. People who have strokes often have facial problems that appear similar to Bell’s Palsy to the untrained eye. However, a stroke usually weakens or paralyzes the lower half of the face, while Bell’s Palsy affects one side of the face. Additionally, strokes may affect the arm or leg or one side of the body, while Bell’s Palsy only affects the face.
However, it’s important to go see a doctor immediately if you have these symptoms so a doctor can confirm the diagnoses. If it is a stroke, every second counts for the best recovery.