The symptoms of Bell's palsy include facial sagging, jaw pain, reduced taste ability, saliva and tear production changes, and headache, according to Mayo Clinic. Patients with Bell's palsy may also experience drooling, earache and paralysis on the affected facial side.
Bell's palsy patients should visit a doctor immediately when the symptoms of the condition appear to receive early diagnosis and treatment, notes Mayo Clinic. Early treatment helps to prevent possible complications, such as permanent facial nerve damage, blindness and synkinesis, or involuntary contraction of certain muscles. To diagnose Bell's palsy, a doctor first conducts a physical exam before ordering further tests, such as electromyography and imaging scans, to determine the extent of the condition and its possible underlying cause. Depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition, treatment options may include physiotherapy to prevent contractures; medications, such as corticosteroids, to treat facial inflammation; and plastic surgery to repair facial nerves.
Bell's palsy is a condition in which the nerve controlling one side of the facial muscles undergoes damage, leading to weak facial muscles on the affected side, explains Mayo Clinic. As of 2015, the cause of Bell's palsy is not clear; however, experts think that viral conditions, such as chickenpox, German measles, mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus infections and flu, are possible causes of Bell's palsy. Other possible viral causes include mumps, shingles and cold sores.