Q: How does Bell’s palsy start?
A: The onset of Bell’s palsy is sudden, and its full effects can be felt within 48 hours. That’s because any damage to the seventh cranial nerve can manifest right away, since it is responsible for controlling the facial muscles you use daily. The paralysis usually affects one side of your face, but it’s possible that both sides can be affected. Other symptoms that may appear include:1,2
• Eye problems: An eyelid may become paralyzed, making it hard to blink.
• Oral problems: The tongue may have an altered sense of taste, and saliva production may be affected. A corner of the mouth may remain open, which can cause drooling.
• Onset of pain: You may feel pain develop in front or behind the ear of the affected side.
Q: Does Bell’s palsy go away?
A: Yes, Bell’s palsy may go away, either on its own or through the use of various treatment methods. The average time for the symptoms to disappear isn’t exact, as every case of Bell’s palsy is different for each person who has it. It’s estimated that the symptoms get better two weeks after they appear, and the healing period can take up to a total of three to six months (with or without treatment).3
Q: Can Bell’s palsy come back?
A: If you’ve recently recovered from a bout of Bell’s palsy, it’s possible that it can come back again in the future. It’s estimated that around 7 percent of people diagnosed with Bell’s palsy have recurrent attacks, with an average interval of 10 years.4 The Tampa Bay Hearing & Balance Medical Center estimates that there’s a 6 to 7 percent chance for Bell’s palsy to strike a second time. If it does occur, the risk for a third attack doubles to 12 to 15 percent.5
Q: How can you get rid of Bell’s palsy fast?
A: There are two main treatment options to help you recover from Bell’s palsy faster:
• Physical therapy: There are various physical therapies that can help treat paralysis caused by Bell’s palsy. These can help reduce muscle shrinkage and help you regain control through specialized massages and exercises. Visit the Bell’s Palsy Exercises page for more information.
• Healthy diet: Foods abundant in B vitamins and anti-inflammatory compounds such as garlic, turmeric and omega-3-rich foods can help repair the nerve damage caused by Bell’s palsy. You can visit the Bell’s palsy diet page on specific foods you can eat, as well as foods you should avoid.
Q: Can acupuncture help with Bell’s palsy?
A: Based on published scientific evidence, acupuncture can have a positive effect on the symptoms of Bell’s palsy. In one study, a 15-year-old girl diagnosed with the condition was given 25 acupuncture sessions for two months. After the treatment, she had a 60 to 70 percent overall improvement rating, and noted that her cheek muscle strength improved by around 40 percent.6
Q: How long does Bell’s palsy last?
A: Each case of Bell’s palsy differs depending on the damage sustained by the seventh cranial nerve. It’s estimated that symptoms usually go away within two to three months, but it can take up to a year before you can fully recover. If treatment is sought out immediately, the recovery time can be shortened.7