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Updated on June 13, 2022

Facial Nerve Palsy

Facial nerve palsy is a condition where there is sudden weakness in the muscles on one side of the face due to the facial nerve dysfunction.   Although in most cases, the cause is unknown (this is called Bell’s palsy), facial nerve paralysis may be associated with the following conditions;

  • Middle ear infection
  • Viral infection (such as mumps, measles, herpes or influenza)
  • Herpes zoster virus infection or shingles (also called Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome)
  • Stroke which may be associated with poorly controlled hypertension or diabetes
  • Inflammation

Image Researchgate net

Symptoms

The facial muscles help us to wrinkle our forehead, blink, open and close our eyes, smile, laugh, chew, yawn or open and close our mouths.  These muscles are also known as ‘muscles of facial expression’.  Any weakness of these group of muscles will results in the following symptoms;

  • Inability to raise our forehead or eyebrow
  • Inability to blink or close the eyelid
  • Inability to smile
  • Droopy mouth resulting in drooling of saliva
  • Ear or headache ache
  • Pain around the jaw or behind the ear
  • Changes in hearing

Although some people may have complete recovery, others may suffer permanent loss of muscle function.  As, such, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible for tests and treatment.

Click CBS LA video to watch Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome

Treatment

1. Medication

  • Steroids may be required if there is evidence of inflammation
  • Anti-viral medication such as Acyclovir may be needed if the cause is due to shingles or herpes virus
  • Eye lubricants and moisturising ointment will be required to keep the eye moist and prevent corneal ulcer if the eye cannot shut when sleeping.  Sometimes, the eye may need to be taped shut at night during sleep to prevent cornea exposure

Click to view FacialPalsy video on Eye Taping

2. Massage

It is believed that some form of muscle massage can help the muscle recover faster.  It also helps to prevent these muscles from getting stiff due to lack of use.

Click to view FacialPalsy video on Massage Treatment

3. Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment using acupuncture may help with the recovery of the facial nerve in some cases.  Do discuss this option with your doctor to see if your case is suitable for acupuncture.

Prognosis

Over 80% of people with facial nerve palsy will recover fully without any permanent muscle weakness. However, some people do have long term facial muscle weakness and as such, please see a doctor or neurologist as soon as your symptoms occur to get treatment early.   It is important to also see an eye specialist to get your eyelid function assessed to check if they are good enough to prevent your eyes from getting dry or at risk of getting corneal ulcers.

Consult your doctor when you have these symptoms


Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.