Bell's palsy occurs when a facial nerve becomes swollen or inflamed, causing paralysis or weakness on one side of the face. The onset of the paralysis is sudden, and the exact cause of the inflammation may be difficult to identify. Bell's palsy is often linked to upper respiratory infections, viral infections such as those caused by infectious mononucleosis, herpes, mumps, HIV viruses, and bacterial infections such as Lyme disease . Facial weakness from Bell's palsy can be associated with a more generalized peripheral neuropathy as well. People with diabetes are at a four times greater risk of developing Bell's palsy. Women also have an increased risk of Bell's palsy during the third trimester of pregnancy.
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Roughly, from the studies, it seems that if you do not take steroids you have about a 15 in 20 chance of full recovery of the nerve function. But, if you take a steroid medicine, you have about a 17 in 20 chance of full recovery. So, taking a course of steroids does not guarantee full recovery of the nerve function. However, it increases the chance of full recovery compared to no treatment. You should start the course of steroids as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms; ideally, within 72 hours of symptoms starting. They may not have much effect if they are taken after this.