Updated: Jun 16, 2019
Please note that the following is a general guideline/ discussion only. For a full assessment, exclusion of any other underlying cause for your symptoms and an individualised treatment approach, you will need to be seen by a qualified specialist.
Transitent Facial Nerve weakness
Idiopathic ACUTE onset lower motor nerve facial paralysis
if a facial weakness is of slow onset (over 3 weeks) it is due to a malignancy unless proven otherwise
The commonest cause of VII palsy
> 65 years double, and in children half
30% incomplete, and 70% have a complete paralysis
Now thought to be due to viral infection-HSV type 1
1/3 of patients get partial weakness-95% gain full recovery
2/3 of patients get complete weakness- 70% full recovery and 30% incomplete recovery
TAKING A HISTORY
Hx on Comment Presentation
Most commonly Bells palsy only affects the facial nerve alone
It usually occurs over 2-3 days, not over weeks
70% may go on to develop complete paralysis
Viral prodrome may have been noted
Other cranial neuropathies?
Some believe that other cranial neuropathies may also be present in Bell palsy; however, this is not uniformly accepted. The symptoms in question include the following:
Hyperesthesia or dysesthesia of the glossopharyngeal or trigeminal nerves
Dysfunction of the vestibular nerve
Hyperesthesia of the cervical sensory nerves
Vagal or trigeminal motor weakness
Further history should be directed towards excluding known causes
Herpes Zoster: has painful vesicles
Middle ear disease: look for middle ear infections/ cholesteotoma- hx of ear discharge, hearing loss
Central: if forehead is spared this could be due to a central neurological disease
Neuropathy ie Gullian Bare
Slow onset- Tumour unless proven otherwise
need to note if complete or not. Complete loss carries a worse prognosis and need urgent treatment
Lower motor or upper motor?
If eyes are not protected/ absent bells phenomenon -need eye care/ ophthalmology follow up
Full cranial nerve exam:
If multiple nerves affected, consider an MRI early to exclude other central cause
Look For possible Ramsay Hunt
Vesicles -pinna, EAC, postauricular, palate
Middle ear pathology
exclude AOM, OME, need to do a hearing test/ clinical free field test
No routine blood work up needed-unless another cause is suspected
MRI if high chance of another cause-as above
MRI- if no response/ no improvement after 2 months
CT Temp Bones in middle ear disease noted
If middle ear pathology is noted
Electrical testing of the facial nerve:
Some centres may do these in patients with complete paralysis. The reasoning is that these tests (ENOG, EMG) help identify those who are likely to have poor response to medical treatment. Some may argue decompression of the facial nerve within 2 weeks improves prognosis. However, the counter argument is that the risk of this operation may outweigh the benefit achieved. Hence most do not do routine electrical testing of the nerve.
combinations of steroids and antiviral agents have shown to improve the overall outcome if given within 7 days of onset.
Usually, prednisone 1 mg per Kg for 7 days then taper over 4 days
Should be added if within 7 days of onset
Acyclovir (400mg 5 times a day for 10 days or Valacyclovir 500 mg BD for 5 days
If Herpes Zoster is suspected need higher doses.
Taping, Lacry lube, Opthalmology follow up
Only for those with complete paralysis, with poor prognosis noted by electrical studies. Not done routinely in most centres.