By Dr. Mercola
The symptoms of Bell’s palsy are quite easy to identify, as they are confined to your facial area only. Its main indicator is paralysis, which usually develops on one side, and rarely on both sides. You may find that the affected cheek is hard to move, or cannot be moved at all. The following symptoms may appear as well:1
• Pain: Headaches and pain close to the jaw of the affected side are common.
• Sensory changes: Your ear may be more sensitive and sounds may seem louder. Your tongue may not function properly as well.
• Oral problems: Drooling and changes in saliva production are other symptoms often reported with people who have Bell’s palsy.
There's a Chance You Can Display Symptoms of Other Diseases as Well
The root cause of Bell’s palsy is often linked to a prior infection caused by bacteria or viruses. One example is Lyme disease, which is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.2 It occurs when ticks infected with the bacterium find their way into your skin and bite it.3 Prominent symptoms of Lyme disease include:
• Rashes: The site of the tick bite develops a circular rash three to 30 days after being bitten. Its appearance is often compared to a bullseye, and the red areas may have slightly raised edges.
• Arthritis: Severe pain and swelling may develop in one or more joints.
• Meningitis: Your brain and spinal cord become inflamed, causing severe headaches and increased sensitivity to light.
• Heart complications: The heart muscle can become inflamed (myocarditis), as well as the protective sac around it (pericarditis).
If you develop an infection and Bell’s palsy appears two weeks later, visit a doctor. He or she can help identify the microbe responsible for your symptoms so you can get treated right away.
The Symptoms of Bell's Palsy Can Be Confused With Those of a Stroke
Stroke is a condition caused by a blood clot in your brain, leading to loss of movement or memory in the corresponding brain area that was affected.
As a result, paralysis usually develops, which can be confused with Bell’s palsy. That being said, both can be distinguished quite accurately — Bell’s palsy only affects your face, while stroke can affect any part of your body, including your face.4 It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of stroke, because it can be potentially fatal. Common warning signs include:5
• Balance problems: Sudden coordination issues may develop, such as loss of balance, trouble walking and dizziness.
• Headache: A severe headache with no known cause may develop.
• Cognitive issues: You may suddenly have trouble understanding conversations or speaking to friends and relatives.
• Numbness: You may feel that a part of your face, arm or leg becomes numb or paralyzed.
If you spot any of these issues, call for help immediately, even if the symptoms go away. You should also be accompanied by a family member to the hospital to provide any additional assistance.6
When to Consult With Your Doctor
Once you notice that you’re having problems moving your facial muscles and performing common tasks such as chewing, smiling and projecting facial expressions, have yourself checked immediately. You most likely have Bell’s palsy, although you could be having a stroke.
It’s better to get diagnosed right away to rule out possible causes, so you can get the right treatment at once. In the same manner, have yourself treated if you develop any diseases that may potentially cause Bell’s palsy.