Crocodile Tears Syndrome is a popular name for a condition known as gustatolacrimal reflex or Bogorad’s Syndrome. The medical condition usually appears during recovery from Bell’s Palsy and affects the function of the facial nerve network. As a result, a person suffering from this syndrome may begin to cry while eating.
The root cause of this condition has to do with the presence of a lesion in the geniculate ganglion. The lesion may appear in the cranial nerve system and cause a degree of paralysis in the muscles of the face. As the nerve fibers begin to recover, the presence of the lesion may lead to a malformation of a salivary gland into a tear gland.
During the process of attempting to chew food, this aberration in the regrowth of the glands may cause the damaged nerve glands to release tears. The individual who suffers from Crocodile Tears Syndrome has no control over the activity and may appear to cry throughout the meal. While extremely frustrating, it should not be seen as a sign that the individual is unhappy or emotionally unstable.
Because many people do not understand the cause of the tears, well meaning friends and relatives sometimes attempt to offer advice that is not applicable to the situation. This can cause the person suffering with the syndrome to begin to withdraw from social situations. Rather than calling attention to the presence of tears during a meal, loved ones can best support the patient by making sure a clean handkerchief or tissues are within easy reach, and continue as if nothing unusual is taking place.
Treatments for Crocodile Tears Syndrome are somewhat limited. One promising method of treating the condition is the administration of botulinum toxin, or Botox®. By injecting a small amount of botulinum toxin directly into the lacrimal gland, the amount of tears can be reduced or even eliminated.
It is important to note that not every person recovering from Bell's Palsy will experience Crocodile Tears Syndrome. In fact, the possibility of developing the condition during recovery is very low. Further, the degree of severity will vary from one person to another. A qualified medical professional can determine the best course of treatment based on the frequency and level of discomfort the patient is experiencing.