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About 40,000 people in the United States develop facial paralysis each year with children comprising a small percentage of that population.  There are more than 50 known causes of facial paralysis but the most common in children is “Bell’s palsy,” the cause of which is not certain. This disorder effects one side of the facial muscles due to dysfunction of the seventh cranial nerve, usually thought to stem from a viral infection; Bell’s palsy is found in 20 out of 100,000 Americans, with the inci-dence increasing with each decade of life.

What causes Bell’s palsy?  

In Bell’s palsy, facial paralysis results from damage (e.g., possibly from viral infection) to the facial nerve.  Adults and children will either wake up to  find they have facial paralysis or palsy, or have  symptoms such as a dry eye or tingling around 
their lips that progress to Bell’s palsy during 
that same day.  Occasionally symptoms may take a few days to progress to facial weakness or paralysis.  Physical trauma to the head and neck region at birth and during childhood  may cause facial paralysis.  Other causes are. .

What are the symptoms of Bell’s palsy in children? 

Not all children react the same to this disorder.  However, recorded symptoms include:
  The child may complain of headache or pain 
behind or in front of the ear a few days prior to the 
onset of Bell’s palsy. 
 Swelling or drooping on one side of the face. 
•   Drooling, excessive, or reduced production of saliva. 
•   An inability to blink or completely close one eye.
•   The child has either excessive tears or marked dryness 
and inability to make tears in one eye. 
•  Sounds seem louder than they really are .
•   The child is experiencing sensitivity to light. 
•   Episodes of dizziness

Treatments for Facial Paralysis:

1) If infection is the cause, then an antibiotic to fight bacteria (as in middle ear 

infections) or antiviral agents (to fight syn-dromes caused by viruses like herpes zoster (Ramsay Hunt Syndrome) may be used. The prognosis for children with facial paralysis is generally very good.  The extent of nerve damage determines the extent of recovery.  With or without treatment, studies indicate that most pediatric patients with the disorder begin to get better within two weeks after the initial onset of symptoms and recover completely within three to six months.  Adults may find residual symptoms remaining for an indefinite period of time.


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