Department of Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery

Facial Nerve (Bell’s Palsy)

The facial nerve, sometimes called the “seventh cranial” nerve controls all the muscles of facial expression. Paralysis of the facial nerve leads to the sagging, drawn appearance of the side of the face and the inability to close the eye completely.

Bell’s Palsy is a common cause of facial paralysis. Bell’s Palsy is thought to be caused by a virus. Although it usually recovers spontaneously, most physicians will consider treating it with steroids and anti-virals.

The facial nerve courses through the ear spaces, so problems in the ear can affect the nerve. Tumors or infection occurring anywhere along the nerve may also cause weakness or paralysis. Sometimes surgery may be necessary. Any facial paralysis or weakness should be evaluated by your physician.

For more information, see:

American Academy of Otolaryngology
Bell’s Palsy Network