Lyme disease is a vector-borne disease that occurs due to a bite from an blacklegged tick infected with Borrelia burgdorferi or Borrelia mayonii bacteria. It causes fever, headache, fatigue and other physical symptoms. In some instances, Lyme disease also results in facial weakness or paralysis.
Can Lyme Disease Cause Facial Paralysis?
The bacteria linked to Lyme disease can cause joint and nerve system damage. It can also impact the facial nerve and lead to facial paralysis symptoms.
When the facial nerve is damaged, facial weakness can occur. If left untreated, facial nerve damage can escalate, to the point where a patient may experience severe facial palsy on one or both sides of the face.
Facial weakness or paralysis must be treated immediately to minimize the risk of long-lasting side effects. At the first sign of facial paralysis symptoms, it is crucial to go to a doctor. At this time, a doctor can determine if a patient is dealing with facial paralysis and/or Lyme disease and treat one or both conditions.
Lyme Disease Facial Paralysis: Here’s What You Need to Know
Research indicates that approximately 5% of patients diagnosed with Lyme disease experience some form of facial weakness on one or both sides of the face. In certain cases, Lyme disease and Bell’s palsy occur at the same time, and it becomes difficult for a patient to smile, frown or make other natural facial expressions.
Along with facial paralysis, Lyme disease can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, including:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Stiff neck
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Heart palpitations
- Persistent numbness, pain, and/or tingling of the hands and/or feet
The symptoms of facial paralysis and Bell’s palsy may start to affect a patient within 7 to 21 days of initial infection. Fortunately, with proper treatment, a patient can quickly and safely address their symptoms.
Lyme Disease and Bell’s Palsy Diagnosis
Laboratory tests are commonly used to diagnose Lyme disease. These tests require a blood sample from a patient.
Initially, a blood test is taken to determine if a patient is dealing with Lyme disease. If a patient tests negative for Lyme disease, no further testing is required. However, if a patient tests positive or the initial test results are unclear, a second test is used to verify Lyme disease is present.
Lab tests are also used to diagnose Bell’s palsy or other forms of facial paralysis. A neurologic and ear, nose, and throat evaluation are also performed. Other tests that may be completed include a test of a patient’s ability to produce tears, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam, and electromyography or electroneurography (ENoG).
Comprehensive testing is key to accurately diagnose Lyme disease and Bell’s palsy. These conditions can occur in combination with one another or separately, and testing ensures a patient can find out if one or both are present. Following testing, a patient can pursue treatment options that deliver long-lasting symptomatic relief.
Lyme Disease and Facial Nerve Palsy Treatment
Lyme disease Bell’s palsy treatment sometimes requires the use of antibiotics. With corticosteroids, antivirals and other antibiotics, an individual may be able to treat acute Lyme disease facial paralysis symptoms before they cause long-lasting harm.
Other treatments that may be used to treat Lyme disease facial palsy include Botox or surgery. To determine the best course of action, it is essential to meet with a doctor. This allows a patient to receive a full medical assessment to find out if he or she is dealing with Lyme disease, then explore various treatment options.
Lyme Disease Recovery
A patient typically regains facial function within about three to four months of Lyme disease facial paralysis treatment. However, some patients require up to 18 months before they begin to see any signs of recovery.
Gradually, a patient coping with facial paralysis due to Lyme disease recovers lost facial tone and movement during recovery. Yet some patients may experience permanent facial muscle tightness, involuntary facial movements or related problems due to Lyme disease. In these instances, additional treatments may be required.
Schedule a Lyme Disease and Bell’s Palsy Treatment Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh
Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis is a globally recognized facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who helps patients dealing with long-term facial paralysis related to Lyme disease. He is happy to explore treatment options to help a Lyme disease patient achieve long-lasting relief from his or her facial paralysis symptoms. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.
Request your consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh today
Call us at (310) 657-2203 to schedule an appointment.Schedule a Consultation