Is the onset of Bell palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis) (IFP) sudden or gradual?

Updated: Jun 14, 2019
  • Author: Danette C Taylor, DO, MS, FACN; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

The onset of Bell palsy is typically sudden, and symptoms tend to peak in less than 48 hours. This sudden onset can be frightening for patients, who often fear they have had a stroke or have a tumor and that the distortion of their facial appearance will be permanent.

Because the condition appears so rapidly, patients with Bell palsy frequently present to the emergency department (ED) before seeing any other health care professional. More people first notice paresis in the morning. Because the symptoms require several hours to become evident, most cases of paresis likely begin during sleep.


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