Fast Five Quiz: Bell Palsy Essentials

Helmi L. Lutsep, MD


February 06, 2019

Persons with diabetes have a higher risk of being affected by Bell palsy than do persons without diabetes. Thus, measuring blood glucose levels at the time of diagnosis of Bell palsy may reveal undiagnosed diabetes. Patients with diabetes are more likely than patients without diabetes to have only partial recovery; recurrence of Bell palsy is also more common among patients with diabetes.

Bell palsy appears to affect the sexes equally. However, young women aged 10 to 19 years are more likely to be affected than are men in the same age group. In general, Bell palsy occurs more commonly in adults. A slightly higher predominance is observed in patients older than 65 years (59 cases per 100,000 people), and a lower incidence rate is observed in children younger than 13 years (13 cases per 100,000 people). The lowest incidence is found in persons younger than 10 years, and the highest incidence is in persons aged 60 years or older. Peak ages are between 20 and 40 years. The disease also occurs in elderly persons aged 70 to 80 years.

Although bilateral simultaneous Bell palsy can develop, it is rare. It accounts for only 23% of bilateral facial paralysis, and has an occurrence rate that is less than 1% of that for unilateral facial nerve palsy. Most patients with bilateral facial palsy have Guillain-Barré syndrome, sarcoidosis, Lyme disease, meningitis (neoplastic or infectious), or bilateral neurofibromas (in patients with neurofibromatosis type 2).

Read more information on the epidemiology and etiology of Bell palsy.


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