Facial Nerve Problems and Bell's Palsy (Bell Palsy)

  • Medical Author:
    Danette C. Taylor, DO, MS, FACN

    Dr. Taylor has a passion for treating patients as individuals. In practice since 1994, she has a wide range of experience in treating patients with many types of movement disorders and dementias. In addition to patient care, she is actively involved in the training of residents and medical students, and has been both primary and secondary investigator in numerous research studies through the years. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology). She graduated with a BS degree from Alma College, and an MS (biomechanics) from Michigan State University. She received her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship and residency were completed at Botsford General Hospital. Additionally, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Peter LeWitt. She has been named a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychiatrists. She is board-certified in neurology by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She has authored several articles and lectured extensively; she continues to write questions for two national medical boards. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) of the Alzheimer's Association of Michigan, and is a reviewer for the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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How are the causes of facial nerve dysfunction diagnosed?

Causes of facial nerve disorder vary from unknown to life threatening. Sometimes, there is a specific treatment for the problem. Accordingly, it is important to investigate why the problem has occurred. The specific tests used for diagnosis will vary from patient to patient, but include:

  1. Hearing tests: Hearing tests are done to assess the status of the auditory nerve. The stapedial reflex test can evaluate the branch of the facial nerve that supplies motor fibers to one of the muscles in the middle ear.
  2. Balance tests: Will help find out if part of the auditory nerve is involved.
  3. Tear tests: The loss of the ability to form tears may help to locate the site and severity of a facial nerve lesion.
  4. Taste tests: The loss of taste in the front of the tongue may help locate the site and severity of a facial nerve lesion.
  5. Salivation test: Decreased flow of saliva may help locate the site and severity of a facial nerve lesion.
  6. Imaging studies: These tests help determine if there is infection, a tumor, a bone fracture, or any other abnormality. These studies usually include a CT scan and/or a MRI scan.
  7. Electrical nerve stimulation tests: Stimulation of the nerve by an electrical current tests whether the nerve can still cause muscles to contract. It can be used to evaluate progression of the disease. For example, if testing indicates equal muscle response on both sides of the face, the patient can be expected to have complete return of facial function in three to six weeks without significant deformity.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015
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