Is There Any Relation Between Bell’s Palsy and Migraines?

Bell’s palsy is a medical condition that affects the facial nerve responsible for the control of the muscles on one side of the face. This leads to weakness and paralysis of those facial muscles. Facial drooping is a classic sign of Bell’s palsy, as is a change in the formation of tears, saliva, and the sense of taste. Many people develop Bell’s palsy suddenly and totally unexpectedly, often going to sleep feeling fine only to wake up with facial paralysis.
Since the symptoms of Bell’s palsy come on quickly and can be quite shocking, many people do not immediately realize what they are experiencing. In many cases, a person thinks that they are having a migraine. This is because the symptoms or Bell’s palsy and migraines, though unrelated, are quite similar. For instance, migraine sufferers frequently mention that they become sensitive to light and sound. This also happens to people with Bell’s palsy. Additionally, Bell’s palsy often causes a pain behind the ear on the side of the face where the nerve damage is occurring. This pain is sometimes mistaken for migraine related pain.
The causes of migraines and Bell’s palsy are quite different as well. Certain viruses have been identified as responsible for the nerve damage that leads to muscle trauma. Two viruses that affect the face and could be behind Bell’s palsy, the Zoster virus and the Epstein-Barr viruses, are in the herpes family. High stress levels can reactivate a dormant viral infection which can then cause Bell’s palsy as well. Lyme disease has been identified as a cause of the condition as well, as have the viruses that cause mumps and rubella.
While migraines only tend to last a few days at most, Bell’s palsy usually persists for one or two months. In some cases, permanent facial muscle damage can occur. If it can be shown that a patient’s Bell’s palsy has come from a virus or inflammation, doctors may give them antiviral drugs or anti-inflammatory medicine.