The human body nervous system is a fantastic display of natural engineering.  A total of 45 miles of specialized cells and tissue, it doesn’t always function properly.

A common problem with the facial nerve can occur called Bell’s Palsy.  This condition affects 30,000 to 40,000 Americans annually.  It often arises when recovering from an illness, like a common cold for instance.  It’s thought that inflammation around the nerve causes a temporary loss of function.  Things to look for are:

• Difficulty eating or swallowing

• Drooling

• Drooping face especially the eyelid or corner of the mouth

• Difficulty closing one eye

• Altered facial expressions

• Twitching on one side of your face

Other signs are dry mouth, headache, loss of taste and sound disturbances.  As eye practitioners, we often find patients presenting with visual and cosmetic concerns related to this condition.  Eye patching, eyelid taping, and eye drops are all used to treat these problems.

Only a medical examination can verify if you have Bell’s Palsy.  But if you do, rest assured the outlook is good.  Underlying infections, if present, should be treated properly.  Symptoms resolve themselves within a few weeks to a few months.  Some minor long-term effects may persist like muscle weakness or a change in taste. 

If you have a question concerning your eyes, ask Dr. Picken directly by emailing him at prairie


Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton


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