When you have trouble feeling areas of your face, it can be scary to know when and if you will get any type of feeling back. Occasional facial numbness is generally not a concern. If this type of symptom persists or is accompanied by other signs of numbness or pain, it could be the sign of an underlying medical condition.
There are several causes of facial numbness, and if your left cheek is numb or tingling, it could be an indication that something more serious is infringing on nerves. An initial concern of left cheek numbness is stroke. Stroke is when the blood supply to your brain is blocked. When a stroke occurs, brain cells can begin to die and permanent brain damage can occur within minutes. Some of the signs include facial paralysis, numbness on one area of the face, severe headache and slurred speech. You must seek emergency help immediately if you have stroke symptoms. Another cause could be Bell's palsy. This condition also affects the face -- in particular the facial nerve. You may notice that it comes on suddenly or over a period of a couple of days. You may lose control over one side of the face and your face may droop, you may have excessive tearing in the eye and you may be sensitive to sounds. Other things may also cause occasional numbness, including ear infection, Lyme disease, trauma to the head or face, and a brain tumor.
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Your doctor may want to run several tests in order to pinpoint a cause of your left cheek numbness. A physical exam may determine if there are any structure problems with your face or if you have a blockage in your ear. Your doctor may also check your reflexes and test your reaction to stimuli on your extremities. An MRI can help rule out problems neurologically. An EEG, or electroencephalogram, may also be used in order to measure the electrical impulses and communication within your brain. Your doctor may also conduct an EMG or ENoG to help test for how well your facial nerves are functioning. Blood tests may be used to eliminate problems such as Lyme disease as a source of the numbness.
Treatment of your cheek numbness will begin with treating the condition once a diagnosis is made. This could range from blood thinners to rehabilitative therapy if you have had a stroke to medication that is used to help relax the muscles and nerves in the face. If your paralysis or numbness is caused by a virus -- antiviral agents may be used. A steroid may also be used to help reduce inflammation in some cases.
The best way to prevent cheek numbness is to protect your face from any type of blunt force or trauma. It is also important to get regular exercise 30 minutes a day up to five days a week in order to reduce your risk of stroke. Seeing your doctor as soon as you have symptoms can help him treat you effectively and reduce long-term complications.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.