Bell's palsy is a neurological condition that results from damage or trauma to one of the two facial nerves and causes temporary facial paralysis, also called facial palsy. Onset of Bell's palsy usually is sudden. In many cases, a person with the condition wakes up in the morning to find that a side of his or her face is paralyzed.

Other Bell's palsy symptoms include tingling around the lips and eye dryness, often progress quickly and reach maximum severity within 48 hours of onset. Bell's palsy is more common in young adults, and although the symptoms may appear similar, the condition is not related to stroke.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor (e.g., neurologist) about Bell's palsy. Print this page, mark the questions you would like to have answered, and bring it with you to your next appointment. The more you know about Bell's palsy, the easier it will be to make informed decisions about treatment and prevention.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Bell's Palsy

  • What are Bell's palsy causes?
  • What other conditions can cause symptoms similar to Bell's palsy?
  • How will you determine if my facial paralysis is due to Bell's palsy or to another condition?
  • What types of diagnostic tests will be performed?
  • How should I prepare for these tests?
  • What do you suspect is the underlying cause for my Bell's palsy?
  • What tests will you administer to determine the exact cause?
  • Are there any complications associated with Bell's palsy? If so, what are the signs and symptoms of these complications?
  • What are the possible consequences if my condition is left untreated?
  • What should I do if I my condition worsens or if I develop new symptoms or complications?
    Telephone number to call:
  • Can Bell's palsy be cured or is it a chronic condition?
  • What kind of treatment(s) do you recommend for my Bell's palsy? Why do you recommend this treatment?
  • What does this Bell's palsy treatment involve?
  • What kind of self-care can I do at home to relieve my Bell's palsy symptoms?
  • Will medications be used to treat my condition? If so, how will these medicines be administered?
  • What are the possible side effects of these medications?
  • What should I do if I develop severe drug side effects?
    Telephone number to call:
  • Do you recommend Bell's palsy surgery? Why or why not?
  • What do these surgical options involve?
  • What are the benefits, risks, and complications associated with surgery to treat Bell's palsy?
  • How long might it take to recover from surgery?
  • Are there any effective alternative treatments for Bell's palsy, in addition to medications and surgery?
  • I had Bell's palsy years ago. Is it too late to treat lasting symptoms?
  • Can Bell's palsy be prevented?
  • Can you recommend any resources for support or additional information about Bell's palsy?
  • Next appointment:
    Doctor: Date: Time:

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 25 May 2009

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2015