Bell's Palsy and Narcolepsy? Just wondering!

When I was 24 a very strange thing happened to me. I woke up one morning and my entire left side of my face was paralyzed. I immediately called my mother (who could have been a practicing doctor with all the medical knowledge she possessed) and cried to her about my dilemma. She told me that I had “Bell’s Palsy.” She explained it was a virus in the seventh nerve of the brain. It causes temporary paralysis, but eventually goes away just as quickly as it appears. I wonder if there is any connection or any studies that ask people with narcolepsy if they ever had Bell’s Palsy? That would be interesting to know.

Cited from Wikipedia:

Bell's palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII (the facial nerve) causing an inability to control facial muscles on the affected side. Several conditions can cause facial paralysis, e.g., brain tumor, stroke, myasthenia gravis, and Lyme disease. However, if no specific cause can be identified, the condition is known as Bell's palsy. Named after Scottish anatomist Charles Bell, who first described it, Bell's palsy is the most common acute mononeuropathy (disease involving only one nerve) and is the most common cause of acute facial nerve paralysis (>80%).

Bell's palsy is defined as an idiopathic unilateral facial nerve paralysis, usually self-limiting. The hallmark of this condition is a rapid onset of partial or complete paralysis that often occurs overnight. In rare cases (<1%), it can occur bilaterally resulting in total facial paralysis.[1][2]

It is thought that an inflammatory condition leads to swelling of the facial nerve. The nerve travels through the skull in a narrow bone canal beneath the ear. Nerve swelling and compression in the narrow bone canal are thought to lead to nerve inhibition, damage or death.

Corticosteroids have been found to improve outcomes, when used early, while anti-viral drugs have not.[3] Most people recover spontaneously and achieve near-normal to normal functions. Many show signs of improvement as early as 10 days after the onset, even without treatment.

Often the eye in the affected side cannot be closed. The eye must be protected from drying up, or the cornea may be permanently damaged resulting in impaired vision. In some cases denture wearers experience some discomfort.

Coping, I have heard that narcolepsy can be a neurological symptom of lyme, and bell's palsy can also be a symptom of lyme. So, I am wondering, have you ever been evaluated for lyme disease?

Yes, I had Bell Palsy in early 1981. I was at a wedding reception and my wife noticed I was only blinking one eye. I also experienced a strange oily taste on one side of my tongue. The following day, the left half of my face had feeling but no movement.. I had to pack cotton around my eyelid and wear a patch at night in order to keep my eye from being damaged. It lasted 6 to 8 weeks. When it finally started to subside the headaches were horrible. As for Narcolepsy, it started at age six, not diagnosed until age 42. Now 62.

Dear Dancermom, thank you for your comment and question about lyme disease. I have never been evaluated, however, I know what a tick bite looks like. My youngest son was only 5 when I saw the bite and bullseye target on his leg. I took him for a blood test immediately and thank God, he was not infected with lyme's disease. Lyme's disease did not hit the NY area until around 1981 -- the year my daughter was born. I had the Bell's palsy two years later. At this point, it would be extremely expensive to go through the medical procedures needed to diagnose lyme's disease and even if I did have it at some point in my life, it may not show up as a positive. My niece looked into getting the tests done very recently as she was experiencing severe fatigue. But, your question is a good one.

Dear Nosferatu416, Thank you for your response. I, too, couldn't close my eye completely and slept with a patch for about 4 weeks. I was very lucky that it only lasted that long. I don't remember if I experienced headaches, but I do get migraines now and then. The migraines started when I was about 40 years old. As far as your diagnosis at 42 --- did you always KNOW you had it, but just didn't get tested?

Dear Coping, I suffered from it and it destroyed my childhood, but I didn't know what it was until I put it together from watching a segment of 20/20.

I too woke up with Bell’s Palsy when I was about 27. I still have weakness in the left side of my face and my eye is a different size and blinks different from the right one. I have had narcolepsy all my life but not diagnosed until age 42. (I’m 50 now). Reading the comments is very interesting. Never heard of the Lyme disease connection. I had many tick bites as a child. Something to think about…

I have only heard of the cataplexy. I had never heard of Bell's Palsy. I can only imagine how you all felt when it had taken place. I just have the excessive sleepiness, chronic depression, and migraine headaches. I'm learning something knew almost everyday.

Bell's Palsy is not, to my knowledge, part of Narcolepsy. It is caused by inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve. This is possibly caused by a virus. Narcolepsy on the other hand is caused by the death of cells in the hypothalamus, which produce a neuropeptide call orexin (a.k.a. hypocretin) which regulates sleep.Narcolepsy is genetically transmittable. Generally speaking, you are not born with Narcolepsy, but rather, a predisposition for it. Infection or injury is thought to trigger it at some point in your life. It is now considered an autoimmune disorder.

Thank you for sharing that information. I didn't know that.