What is the difference between Bell's palsy and a stroke?

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Bell's palsy and strokes differ in both their symptoms and causes.
A stroke usually brings paralysis or weakness to the lower face, while Bell's palsy usually brings paralysis or weakness to an entire side of your face. Also, Bell's palsy only affects your facial area, while a stroke can target the arm and leg of one side of your body. It is very difficult for most people with active Bell's palsy to wrinkle their foreheads or close their eyes, but most people who have had a stroke can do these things.
Bell's palsy is usually triggered by a virus that inflames a certain facial nerve, while strokes are caused by reduced blood supply to the brain. Lastly, Bell's palsy is not generally life-threatening, while a stroke often is.

Continue Learning about Bell's Palsy

Bell's Palsy

It happens suddenly when one side of your face gets weak and droopy. You think you might be having a stroke, but it's only your face, and a stroke would affect more than that. This condition is called Bells palsy, and the good new...

s is that in most people it only lasts a few months. We don't know what causes this paralysis, which can get worse in the first day or two, and is usually not painful. It's been associated with the virus that causes the common cold (herpes simplex), diabetes and people getting over a virus. There is no specific treatment, and it generally (but not always) gets better.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.