One the main differences between Bell's Palsy and other types of facial paralysis is the speed with which it appears. People wake up one morning and they have it. Within the same 24 hours all the symptoms have been identified. It can, however, take a little longer; perpendicular to 72 hours as did my experience. When this happens, it is easy to panic about what is going to happen next. Remember, this will only affect your face. It is the 7th cranial nerve that has been affected and only that nerve.
This is a list of the most common physical symptoms of Bell's Palsy. This is not an exhaustible list and you may or may not get some or all of them.
Most common symptoms of unilateral Bell's Palsy.
- Facial muscle weakness or a paralysis of the facial muscles on one side of the face.
- Wrinkling of the skin disappears (ironically you will be so happy as they start to come back)
- An inability to completely close the eye on the side of the paralysis
- A permanently watery eye or a constantly dry eye due to the above.
- Inability to raise the eyebrow on the affected side
- Lower eyelid extremely drooped, allowing more of the eye surface to be exposed to dust, dirt and water.
- Pain in or near the ear
- Sensitivity to sound in one ear (Hyperacusis)
- Diminished or distorted taste in the front two thirds of the tongue (sweetness and saltiness)
- As things start to improve you may feel either a tingling or slow pain, or experience experience twitching before that muscle "wakes up" and starts to work again. I must warn you here that sometimes they can wake up and then go back to sleep which is very upsetting (they do wake again though usually) Believe me, as ridiculous as this sounds, it is one of the most wonderful experiences in this whole event when you get a new "twitch".
To summarize all the above it is very difficult or impossible to show any facial expression including a smile on the affected side of your face. If analysis develops slowly, over more than 24-72 hours or you develop other symptoms anywhere else than the affected side of your face then return immediately to your doctor and inform him of your concerns. This could be a different condition that could require different tests and treatment ..
If this is not the first time you have had Bell's Palsy fret not. However, if it has only been a short time since your last experience then it would have been better to have some further testing just to make sure that there is no other condition underlying that may be causing the attacks. Your doctor will most likely recommend this to you anyway.