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CBS New York anchor Maurice DuBois talks Bell's palsy diagnosis

Maurice DuBois discusses Bell's palsy recover... 07:52

Maurice DuBois, an anchorman with WCBS-TV in New York City, is returning to work after being diagnosed with Bell's palsy, a form of temporary facial paralysis caused by damage or trauma to the facial nerves.

After returning from vacation with his family at the beginning of the year, Dubois was taking a selfie with his kids when he realized something was very wrong with his face.

"I looked at the lens, and I can't smile," he said. "I see half my smile isn't happening. So I run to the mirror. I see the face is frozen, literally locked up, not moving. The lines on the forehead, not there."

DuBois said his case came out of the blue, while he was "otherwise, I would say, in pretty good health." He said he did not experience any pain.

About 40,000 Americans suffer from the condition each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The exact cause of Bell's palsy is unknown, but doctors think a viral infection, such as viral meningitis or even the common cold, may play a role. The thinking is that the virus inflames the facial nerve, causing it to swell, but because the nerve comes out of the brain through a small bony tunnel, there is no room for it to swell -- and it gets squeezed and shut down, CBS New York reports.

The paralysis or weakness affects the facial nerve that comes out right behind the ear and innervates the muscles of the face. Smiling, frowning and blinking are all impaired with Bell's palsy.

The condition comes on suddenly -- often overnight -- and without warning. The only treatment for it is prednisone -- an oral corticosteroid to reduce inflammation -- and antiviral medication.

The good news is that most people with the condition start to regain normal function completely within a couple of weeks, and usually recover with very few if any after-effects.

"You just kind of wait it out," DuBois said.

In a few cases, the symptoms may never completely disappear, and in rare instances, the disorder may recur, either on the same or the opposite side of the face.

For as long as the symptoms last, it can be difficult for patients to deal with. "You look at yourself and you see a pretty hideous representation of yourself. It's disturbing," DuBois said. "There's an emotional roller-coaster that takes place. You're thinking, will this ever end?"

He now has recovered completely. DuBois told CBS News he's never been happier to return to work and is grateful for all the support he's received.

"The good is this outpouring of love from people from all over the country, the world quite frankly," he said. "Everyone I've met or touched in some way just gave it back in spades. It was really an amazing emotionally affirming kind of experience from that point."

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