Bell’s palsy is an idiopathic unilateral lower motor neurone facial nerve paralysis of acute onset [1] which includes:

  • Inability to wrinkle the forehead on the affected side
  • Inability to close the affected eye
  • Flattening of the nasolabial fold on the affected side

The incidence of Bell’s palsy is:

  • 20-25/100 000 per year in adults [2,3]
  • 13-30/100 000 per year in all age groups [4]
  • 1.6/100 000 per year in children [4]

There are no geographic, gender or race differences [2].

The incidence in children is lower than in adults and needs careful assessment to look for potentially serious causes [3].

Learning bite

Lower motor neurone paralysis of the facial nerve affects the entire face. Upper motor neurone weakness only affects the lower half of the face [1].

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