The symptoms of Bell's palsy can vary, from a mild numbness of the face, to total paralysis.
The symptoms of Bell's palsy can vary – from a mild numbness of the face to total paralysis.
The symptoms develop quickly and reach their peak within 48 hours. They include:
- weakness or paralysis in one side of the face, which may make it difficult to close the eyelid and cause the side of the mouth to droop
- irritation of the affected eye, such as dryness or increased tear production
- earache or pain underneath the ear on the affected side of the face
- an altered or reduced sense of taste
- increased sensitivity to sound in the affected ear
- drooling from the mouth on the affected side of the face
- dryness of the mouth
- pain around the jaw
- ringing in one or both ears (tinnitus)
- difficulty eating or drinking
- impaired speech
In most cases of Bell's palsy, the symptoms will begin to improve within two to three weeks. Most people make a full recovery within nine months.
When to seek medical advice
As well as being a symptom of Bell's palsy, facial weakness or paralysis can also be a sign of a more serious condition – such as a stroke.
Therefore, you should visit your nearest A&E department immediately or call 999 for an ambulance if you or someone you are with develops sudden facial paralysis so a doctor can determine the cause.