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Who Is Affected by Bell's Palsy?

Bell's palsy is the most common type of facial paralysis. It may be related to a virus such as herpes simplex or herpes zoster. It seems to be more likely to occur in people who have diabetes, and it may be more likely in pregnant women.

Bell's palsy affects:

  • About 25 people out of 100,000.1 That means about 75,000 Americans are affected each year.
  • Equal numbers of men and women.2
  • People between the ages of 15 and 40 years in most cases, although it can occur at any age.3


  1. Solomon D (2003). Bell's palsy and other VII lesions. In RW Evans, ed., Saunders Manual of Neurologic Practice, chap. 6, pp. 348–352. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  2. Ropper AH, Samuels MA (2009). Bell's palsy section of Diseases of the cranial nerves. In Adams and Victor's Principles of Neurology, 9th ed., pp. 1330–1331. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  3. Holland J (2008). Bell's palsy, search date February 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence:
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last Revised July 20, 2011

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