Bell’s Palsy is a disorder of the facial nerve caused by the herpes simplex virus (the same virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes). These viruses often live within nerve cell bodies and can re-activate, thereby compromising the involved nerve’s function. Other non-Bell’s Palsy causes of facial nerve weakness include HIV, middle ear infections, cholesteatoma, facial nerve tumors, temporal bone trauma, brain tumors, stroke, Lyme disease, sarcoidosis, Epstein Barr virus and cytomegalovirus. In Bell’s Palsy, the facial nerve becomes inflamed and swollen. Symptoms on the affected side appear suddenly, often overnight, and include a drooping face, facial twitching, difficulty eating, loss of taste, eye problems (difficulty closing the eye, dry eye or excessive tearing), trouble making facial expressions, hyperacusis (sensitivity to loud sounds) and ear pain.
If you experience facial weakness or paralysis, it is critical that you seek medical care promptly to rule out other more serious causes, such as stroke or tumors. Bell’s Palsy is diagnosed by taking a complete medical history as the time-course and associated symptoms are critical to the diagnosis. If the cause of your symptoms is not clear, additional tests may be recommended, including blood tests, a CT or MRI scan and tests of facial nerve function, such as evoked electromyography (EMG; otherwise known as electroneurography). Most people with Bell’s Palsy completely recover without treatment within three weeks to three months. Medications may be prescribed, including antivirals and corticosteroids (to reduce inflammation of the facial nerve). If facial nerve function is completely absent at onset of symptoms, and there is less than ten percent response on facial nerve testing within two weeks of paralysis, surgical decompression of the facial nerve may be offered to improve chances of a favorable outcome.
Why Choose Us
- Dr. Abraham Jacob, Medical Director for Ear & Hearing (E&H) at the Center for Neurosciences (CNS), is fellowship trained in Otology, Neurotology, and Cranial Base Surgery. He is the first and most experienced Neurotologist in Tucson.
- Dr. Jacob was a founding member of the University of Arizona (UA) Department of Otolaryngology prior to his departure and transition to CNS. At UA, he was Vice Chair of ENT and held the rank of full Professor with Tenure. He has an international reputation as an expert for treating ear diseases.
- Dr. Jacob transitioned his practice to the Center for Neurosciences in early 2017 as he felt that the new environment helped him to optimize delivery of personalized ear and lateral skull base care.
- With the only university-based Otology/Neurotology program in the state of Arizona, Dr. Jacob’s active laboratory and clinical research program ensures that patients are offered only the most up-to-date treatment options.
- Dr. Jacob offers state-of-the-art medical and surgical care for patients with all types of ear and lateral skull base disorders. He is one of the few surgeons in the state of Arizona qualified to offer surgical treatment options for the management of severe Bell’s Palsy. Experience matters!