The symptoms of Bell’s palsy can vary in severity, from mild weakness to total paralysis. The more inflammation and compression the facial nerve is exposed to, the more severe the paralysis tends to be, and the longer it takes for the nerve to heal and regain function.
The symptoms of Bell’s palsy can develop 1 to 2 weeks after you have a:
- ear infection
- eye infection
The symptoms usually appear abruptly, and you may notice them when you wake up in the morning or when you try to eat or drink.
Bell’s palsy is marked by a droopy appearance on one side of the face and the inability to open or close your eye on the affected side. In rare cases, Bell’s palsy may affect both sides of your face.
Other signs and symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:
- facial weakness
- a droopy mouth
- an inability to make facial expressions, such as smiling or frowning
- difficulty pronouncing certain words
- dry eye and mouth
- altered taste
- sensitivity to sound
- difficulty eating and drinking
- muscle twitches in the face
- irritation of the eye on the involved side
In most cases, Bell’s palsy symptoms improve without treatment. However, it can take several weeks or months for the muscles in your face to regain their normal strength.
The following treatments may help in your recovery.
Your doctor may recommend medications such as:
- corticosteroid drugs, which reduce inflammation
- antiviral or antibacterial medication, which may be prescribed if a virus or bacteria causes your Bell’s palsy
- over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which can help relieve mild pain
- eye drops to keep your affected eye well lubricated
- an eye patch (for your dry eye)
- a warm, moist towel over your face to relieve pain
- facial massage
- physical therapy exercises to stimulate your facial muscles