Cause of Bell's Palsy

Bell's palsy occurs when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis.

The etiology of this form of facial palsy is unknown and therefore exactly what causes this damage is also unknown.

Many scientists believe that a viral infection such the common cold sore virus, herpes simplex, causes the disorder.

It is thought that the 7th Cranial nerve (VII), which supplies the face, swells and becomes inflamed in reaction to an infection, causing pressure within the Fallopian canal, the narrow 'tunnel' in the skull through which the facial nerve passes in a somewhat tortuous route. As the nerve swells, it compresses against the inside of the Fallopian canal and as a result, the nerve is unable to function.

Bell's Palsy has also been associated with herpes, mumps, influenza or a flu-like illness, headaches, chronic middle ear infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, tumors, Lyme disease, tuberculosis, trauma such as skull fracture, facial injury and even in some instances, dental work, if the facial nerve is damaged or frozen during injection.

During pregnancy, Bell's palsy is sometimes associated with pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects women at an advanced stage of pregnancy, noted by high blood pressure, swelling of the ankles and protein in the urine.

Bell's palsy is also more rarely associated with serious neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, neurosarcoidosis and multiple sclerosis.




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