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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Bell's palsy

Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

Bell’s palsy happens when there has been damage to a nerve that feeds one side of the face. No one knows for sure what causes it, but some experts believe that it is the result of an infection. As a result of this nerve damage, people with Bell’s palsy can’t move one side of their face properly. They may also experience drooling, tearing of the eye, sensitivity to sound, and/or abnormal taste sensation – all on the same side of the face.

Fortunately, for most people Bell’s Palsy heals within three to six months. The younger you are, the more likely you are that the Bell’s palsy will heal completely. However, in some cases the symptoms do not completely resolve.

If you have been prescribed an anti-viral medication and a steroid, fill the prescription as soon as possible (preferably on your way home from the ER). The sooner you start to take your medications, the more likely your symptoms are to fully go away.

How to wear a soft eye patch
Diagram showing person wearing soft eye pad

Some people with Bell’s palsy are unable to close their eye completely on the affected side of the face. This puts the eye at risk for becoming dry, which can cause surface damage on the eye. To prevent your eye from drying out, use artificial tears (which you can buy from the drug store) during the day time and artificial tear ointment at night.

You can also buy soft eye pads that can help to keep your eye closed and moist during the night. After putting some artificial tear ointment in the lower lid of the affected eye, close your eyelid fully with your fingers and place the eye pad over the closed eye. Use one piece of medical tape to tape the pad onto your face, placing one end of the tape on your forehead and the other end on your cheek, on the diagonal (see diagram).

During the daytime keep your eyes protected by wearing protective eyewear such as sunglasses (preferably large ones), to shield your eye from any foreign bodies (because you can’t blink fully like you usually would if something came at your eye).