Early symptoms of Bell’s palsy include ear pain, impaired taste, decreased or increased hearing capacity, and changed sensations in the face, according to Drugs.com. Once the condition advances, the afflicted person often finds it difficult to close her mouth or eye on one side of the face.
The weakness or paralysis on one side of the face that characterizes Bell’s palsy comes on suddenly, causing the face to droop on one side, according to WebMD. This weakness and paralysis are the main symptoms of the condition, and the weakness may be so marked that the person drools out of the side of the mouth. Dry eyes, excessive tearing and other eye problems are additional Bell’s palsy symptoms.
The onset of Bell’s palsy is typically rapid and often occurs overnight, notes WebMD. Medical science is unclear about the cause of Bell’s palsy, although the same herpes virus that causes cold sores may cause it. It does not result from transient ischemic attack or stroke, although weakness in one side of the face is also a sign of these conditions. The symptoms caused by Bell’s palsy, however, dissipate within a matter of weeks in most cases.
Doctors generally diagnose Bell’s palsy via a physical examination, according to WebMD. The examining physician performs a neurological exam to test the functionality of the facial nerve and may also perform CT scans, MRIs or blood work to confirm the condition.