Though doctors have researched Bell’s Palsy for quite some time, the exact causes of the disorder are not completely known. Bell’s Palsy is the weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles on one side of your face. If you suffer from it, it may be more difficult to smile, blink, taste, cry, and use other types of facial muscles.
These muscles are controlled by a facial nerve that runs from your brain and through a narrow corridor of bone in your skull. This shell made out of bone is meant to protect the nerve, but when this nerve becomes inflamed, it may start to grow or move within this shell and become pinched by the bone. Once pinched or damaged, the nerve is no longer is able to transmit messages to your facial muscles or send messages back to the brain, and doctors believe this is the primary cause of Bell’s Palsy.
Though doctors and scientist have a basic understanding of Bells Palsy causes, there is still direct research that proves these theories. Certain viral infections have been linked to Bell’s Palsy, and it’s believe that these viruses provoke immune responses and inflammation in your nerve which cause the pinching or compressing. There are a number of different viruses that have been linked to Bell’s Palsy. Once they reach that sensitive area between the bone where the facial nerve is located, you are at risk for Bell’s Palsy.
There are some viruses that have already been studied and linked as potential Bells Palsy causes. These viruses include:
- Genital herpes and cold sores
- Shingles and chicken pox
- Adenovirus and other respiratory viruses
- Coxsackievirus, also known as Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
Other Potential Bells Palsy Causes
Though viral infections are the most studied and most understood causes of Bell’s Palsy, some researchers have found strong links to other potential causes. These causes include trauma to the face and head, bone fractures in the ear and face, injuries to the brain stem, and surgical wounds in the face. If any of these types of events or injuries damage or put pressure on the facial nerve, it would likely create the same types of symptoms as a viral infection.
Unknown Bells Palsy Causes
Though viral infection is generally accepted as a cause of Bell’s Palsy, there are still examples of Bell’s Palsy that are not linked to any type of virus. In many cases, doctors are still unable to explain what causes the emergence of facial paralysis in patients because there are many potential causes and explanations for this problem. Often when a doctor is unable to understand the reason behind someone’s facial paralysis, he will just diagnose it as Bell’s Palsy.
Disproven Bells Palsy Causes
Because Bell’s Palsy continues to be misunderstood and misdiagnosed, there is some misinformation in the public about Bells Palsy causes. For example, Bell’s Palsy is not caused by a stroke or by a transient ischemic attack. Both of these events can cause facial paralysis, but this is a different type of facial paralysis than Bell’s Palsy. If you suffer from facial paralysis caused by stroke or TIA, you require a different type of medical care and treatment.
Additionally, there are some people who believe that Bell’s Palsy is linked to or possibly caused by vaccinations. However, experts from the Institute of Medicine and Vanderbilt University have completed a study demonstrating that vaccines do not cause Bell’s Palsy. The researchers studied people who had been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy and looked into each person’s vaccination history, but little to no connection was discovered.