Uncommon Causes of Facial Paralysis
Diagnosing and treating facial paralysis can be challenging. If facial paralysis causes cannot be identified, a patient’s facial appearance and self-confidence can be severely affected.
Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute is a Harvard-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon with many years of experience. He understands both common and uncommon causes of facial paralysis, and he ensures that a patient can receive proper facial paralysis diagnosis and treatment.
Common facial paralysis causes include Bell’s palsy, Moebius syndrome, and trauma caused by a prior surgery or cosmetic procedure. Yet, there are also many uncommon causes of facial paralysis, such as:
1. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease occurs due to bacteria transmitted via a bite from an infected blacklegged tick. Approximately 11% of patients dealing with Lyme disease experience facial paralysis, UT Southwestern Medical Center reports. Among these patients, paralysis occurs on both sides of the face in about 30% of cases.
Along with facial paralysis, Lyme disease can occur in combination with Bell’s palsy, which is reflected in a study published in Canadian Family Physician. In the study, a 46-year-old man experienced left-side facial drooping and was unable to fully close the left eyelid. The man’s blood work appeared normal, but he indicated that he had been hiking in areas where ticks carrying Lyme disease may have been present.
The aforementioned study showed that idiopathic Bell’s palsy can occur in combination with Lyme disease. But, if Lyme disease goes undetected for an extended period of time, facial paralysis and other symptoms of the disease will progress, which can make them more difficult to treat.
Study researchers noted that proper diagnosis of Bell’s palsy and Lyme disease may require laboratory testing and other assessments. With comprehensive testing, a patient can undergo myriad evaluations to determine if Bell’s palsy is occurring in conjunction with Lyme disease.
2. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS occurs due to the human immunodeficiency virus, which disrupts the body’s ability to ward off infection and disease. HIV is sexually transmitted and can gradually weaken the immune system. If left undiagnosed and untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS.
In a study published in Minerva Medica, researchers examined neurological complications related to HIV infection and AIDS. Study researchers found that the nervous system is impacted at different stages of an HIV infection. They also indicated that idiopathic peripheral facial nerve palsy is a possible neurological complication linked to HIV infection.
3. Ear Infection
An ear infection occurs when bacteria or a virus penetrates the air-filled space behind the eardrum. It can cause ear pain, along with loss of balance, headache, and difficulty hearing or responding to sounds. An ear infection can also occur at the same time as facial paralysis.
In an Acta Oto-Laryngologica study, researchers evaluated 20 patients who were dealing with inner ear and facial nerve complications. Researchers noted that seven of these patients experienced inner ear problems and facial paralysis.
4. Infectious Mononucleosis
Infectious mononucleosis, also referred to as mono, occurs due to the Epstein-Barr virus and spreads via saliva. CDC points out that mono affects approximately 25% of young adults and teenagers, but patients can be diagnosed with mono at any age.
A study published in The Lancet highlighted the possible link between mono and facial paralysis. The study of three young adults with Bell’s palsy indicated unilateral facial paralysis in association with mono may be a variant of idiopathic facial diplegia and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
5. Tumor Removal
Facial nerve paralysis has been associated with acoustic neuromas, schwannomas, and other tumors. When a tumor is removed from a patient’s face, facial paralysis can occur as a side effect of surgery.
For patients dealing with a facial tumor, it is crucial to choose an expert facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon for treatment. This enables a patient to minimize the risk of facial paralysis and other side effects following tumor removal.
What Is the Best Way to Treat Facial Paralysis?
Much in the way that there are many possible causes of facial paralysis symptoms, the best way to treat facial paralysis depends on various factors. By meeting with Dr. Azizzadeh, a patient can explore treatment options to safely correct facial paralysis symptoms.
Dr. Azizzadeh is world-renowned for his facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and head and neck surgery expertise, and he tailors each facial paralysis treatment to his patient. Initially, Dr. Azizzadeh learns about a patient’s facial paralysis and reviews their medical history. Dr. Azizzadeh also performs tests to analyze his patient’s facial paralysis symptoms. Once Dr. Azizzadeh determines the severity of his patient’s facial paralysis, he offers a personalized treatment recommendation.
To correct facial paralysis symptoms, Dr. Azizzadeh offers several non-surgical and surgical treatment options. In patients dealing with partial facial paralysis with synkinesis, Dr. Azizzadeh may recommend physical therapy and Botox injections to improve facial muscle coordination and correct facial asymmetry. Comparatively, patients coping with Bell’s palsy, a parotid tumor, or other medical issues may benefit from a masseter to facial nerve transfer. Dr. Azizzadeh provides gracilis muscle transplant, hypoglossal-facial nerve transfer, and other surgical procedures to facial paralysis patients as well.
Schedule a Facial Paralysis Treatment Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh
Dr. Azizzadeh is available to educate facial paralysis patients about different treatment options and address their symptoms. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.
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