We don’t usually know what causes Bell’s Palsy, so that makes it a perfect candidate for some people to think it’s a vaccine injury.
What Causes Bell’s Palsy?
Although we may not always know what causes it, Bell’s Palsy is fairly easy to diagnose.
“Bell’s palsy is a nerve problem that affects the muscles of your face. It causes weakness or partial paralysis of the muscles on one side of your face. With Bell’s palsy, your eyelid may not close properly and your smile may seem uneven.”What Is Bell’s Palsy?
So what causes it?
“Bell’s palsy occurs when the nerve that controls the facial muscles is swollen, inflamed, or compressed, resulting in facial weakness or paralysis. Exactly what causes this damage, however, is unknown.”Bell’s Palsy Fact Sheet
Most experts think that Bell’s Palsy is caused by a viral infection, which leads to swelling and inflammation of the facial nerve. That’s likely why steroids and antiviral medications, like acyclovir, are often helpful treatments.
“The prognosis for individuals with Bell’s palsy is generally very good. The extent of nerve damage determines the extent of recovery. Improvement is gradual and recovery times vary. With or without treatment, most individuals begin to get better within 2 weeks after the initial onset of symptoms and most recover completely, returning to normal function within 3 to 6 months.”Bell’s Palsy Fact Sheet
Fortunately, most people with Bell’s Palsy, which mainly affects adults, get better.
Do Vaccines Cause Bell’s Palsy?
Bell’s Palsy was first described by Sir Charles Bell in 1821.
There are reported cases before that though, with the earliest by Cornelis Stalpart van der Wiel (1620-1702) from The Hague, The Netherlands in 1683.
And no, we didn’t have any vaccines in 1683.
That’s not to say that vaccines couldn’t cause Bell’s Palsy.
One vaccine, an inactivated intranasal influenza vaccine that was only used in Switzerland during the 2000-01 flu season, was associated with an increased risk of Bell’s Palsy.
Why? It was likely because of the enzymatically active Escherichia coli Heat Labile Toxin (LT) adjuvant that was used in the vaccine, which is not something you find in any of the vaccines we now use.
It should be reassuring to everyone that plenty of studies have been done confirming that other vaccines we use do not cause Bell’s Palsy. And even in the case of that flu vaccine, the association was quickly discovered and the vaccine was discontinued.
More on Bell’s Palsy?
- Do Vaccines Cause Bell’s Palsy?
- Study – Use of the inactivated intranasal influenza vaccine and the risk of Bell’s palsy in Switzerland.
- Study – Transient Facial Nerve Paralysis (Bell’s Palsy) following Intranasal Delivery of a Genetically Detoxified Mutant of Escherichia coli Heat Labile Toxin
- Study – Bell’s palsy and parenteral inactivated influenza vaccine.
- Study – Bell’s palsy and influenza(H1N1)pdm09 containing vaccines: A self-controlled case series
- Study – Immunization and Bell’s palsy in children: a case-centered analysis.
- Do Vaccines Cause Bell’s Palsy?
- IOM – Adverse Effects of Vaccines Evidence and Causality (2012)
- Cranial Nerve VII Palsy as the First Sign of Cephalic Tetanus After an Earthquake
- Study – Varicella zoster virus in Bell’s palsy: a prospective study.
- New-onset Bell palsy and Lyme disease
- Bell’s Palsy Fact Sheet
- What Is Bell’s Palsy?
- Bell’s Palsy
- Contributions of Dr. Charles Bell
- Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842): contributions to neuro-ophthalmology.
- Bell’s palsy before Bell: Cornelis Stalpart van der Wiel’s observation of Bell’s palsy in 1683.
- Bell’s palsy before Bell: Evert Jan Thomassen à Thuessink and idiopathic peripheral facial paralysis.