Unexplained Facial Paralysis

Pediatric Bell’s palsy is sudden, unexplained facial paralysis that limits or prevents you from moving your mouth, nose or eye. The condition may cause one side of your face to stiffen, freeze or droop.

Pediatric Bell’s palsy occurs when the cranial nerve that controls your facial muscles' movement becomes inflamed and swollen due to viral infection, toxins or trauma.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The initial virus or infection that causes Bell’s palsy is often so mild it goes undiagnosed or even unnoticed. Bell’s palsy symptoms may appear suddenly and vary in severity from slight weakness to the complete paralysis of one side of your face.

Symptoms may include:

  • Drooping on one side of your face or eyelid
  • Pain or headache
  • Drooling
  • Uncontrolled tearing or watering from one eye
  • Abnormal, uncontrolled movements of your facial muscles
  • Difficulty blinking, smiling or closing your eye on one side of your face

There is not a specific test to diagnosis pediatric Bell’s palsy. Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination and review of your medical history to determine the specifics of your condition and when it began.

Additional testing may include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • EMG to test nerve signals

Most people with Bell’s palsy recover within three months of the condition’s onset. In some cases, permanent weakness may result but this is not a common occurrence. It is unusual to get Bell’s palsy more than once.

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  • U.S. News and World Report has ranked us as one of the best children’s hospitals every year. Learn more about our rankings. We are one of only 84 children's hospitals recognized in any specialty.
  • We are one of eight hospitals in the country, and the only one in Pennsylvania, to be named as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center by The American College of Surgeons (ACS) for excellence in pediatric surgical care.

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