Facial Nerve Disorders
While a patient with facial weakness or paralysis might immediately consider neurological disorders, dysfunction of the facial nerve may be directly linked to an otolaryngologic disorder. The facial nerve, in its normal course, directly traverses the middle ear and mastoid, and so infections, inflammatory processes or tumors of this region may lead to facial weakness, paralysis or spasm. Further, once the facial nerve leaves the skull en route to the muscles of facial expression, the nerve enters the core of the parotid salivary gland. Again infections, inflammatory processes or tumors of this gland may lead to facial dysfunction. Patients with any form of facial nerve abnormality should be evaluated by a well trained otolaryngologist to be sure that important non-neurologic disease is not overlooked and to be sure that their facial dysfunction is treated as effectively as possible.