Major complications of Bell's palsy are chronic loss of taste (ageusia), chronic facial spasm, and corneal (eye) infections. Bell's palsy can cause aesthetic, functional, and psychological disturbances in individuals who have reoccuring nerve dysfunction during their recovery phase or in patients with incomplete healing.
Another complication of Bell's palsy can occur during nerve re-growth. The nerve can be thought of as a bundle of smaller individual nerve connections that branch out to their proper destinations. During re-growth, nerves are generally able to function normally. However, some nerves may begin to function abnormally, leading to a condition known as synkinesis. Synkinesis refers to an involuntary contraction of multiple facial muscles in the process of one or more motions. For example, re-growth of nerves controlling muscles attached to the eye may sidetrack and also re-grow connections reaching the muscles of the mouth. In this way, movement of one also affects the other. When the individual closes the eye, the corner of the mouth will lift, or when smiling, the eye will close.
In addition, around 6% of individual's with Bell's palsy exhibit crocodile tear syndrome on recovery, where they will shed tears while eating. This is thought to be due to faulty regeneration of the facial nerve.
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