DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Bell's palsy. Face of a 45-year- old woman with Bell's palsy. This is a condition where the facial nerve is affected and one side of the face is paralysed. It can cause nervous tics, which are involuntary movements such as winking or baring of the teeth. The condition may also cause numbness, drooling, altered taste and hearing, and tear discharge from the eyes. The possibility of a stroke must be ruled out. Treatment then involves the protection of the eye on the affected side, as blinking is often impossible. Normal function may return without treatment, though steroid drugs may be used, and antiviral drugs may also be used, as a viral cause is often suspected.
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