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What is Crocodile Tears Syndrome?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon996295 — On Aug 07, 2016

I too began having crocodile tears about three months after the onset of my Ramsay-Hunt left side facial paralysis. The crocodile tears began a few weeks after I starting getting some feeling and control back in the left side of my face (which began about three months after the initial paralysis). It has been about 10 months since the crocodile tears began and it has gotten gradually worse. I have eye spasms at times and I get a runny nose every time I eat along with the crocodile tears. I had another nerve aberration during recovery in which a nerve controlling my eyelid mis-connected to my lip area, so now every time I purse my lips to eat, or for instance, to make the "m" or "p" sounds, my left eye closes. It is bothersome and used to be embarrassing, but there are much worse afflictions so I try to take it in stride as an ego-tamer!

By anon994028 — On Jan 07, 2016

I have this as well as have for about two months. It seems to be getting worse as now my eye also spasms and I have a bit of a runny nose each time. It resulted as I have begun recovering from left side facial paralysis due to Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome. Has anyone else experienced the spasms and runny nose along with the tears?

By anon342225 — On Jul 18, 2013

I am 22 and have had this syndrome from birth. Although annoying, it has not affected me much. Makes for interesting conversation.

By anon317207 — On Feb 01, 2013

I suffered from Bells Palsy in 2009, and I've had crocodile tears ever since. I didn't know what was wrong with me until I found this page. I'll go and consult a doctor now.

By anon308811 — On Dec 12, 2012

I developed this condition pretty much at the very end of my Bell's Palsy recovery, and now I am 100 percent recovered (aside from the lingering croco-tears). I don't mind it much really. It can be a little inconvenient but really there are bigger problems in the world. I think it makes for good conversation at the dinner table.

By seag47 — On Jun 12, 2012

This syndrome sounds like it would be very bothersome. I know that whenever I eat, my nose starts to run, and it is embarrassing to have to keep wiping my nose with a napkin in public. I can only imagine how troubling it would be to have to constantly wipe away your tears.

Waiters would probably stop by to ask if everything was all right. You would get looks of pity from strangers at other tables. You might even become short with people as you grew tired of the questions.

I love to eat out, but I think that if I had this syndrome, I would just stay home and eat until it went away. I hate being stared at, and if I simply had to have food from my favorite restaurant, I would call in an order and pick it up.

By OeKc05 — On Jun 12, 2012

@anon126021 – My aunt had this problem, and the only solution her doctor offered was an injection of Botox. She was a little scared to have this done, considering what Botox actually is, but she was truly tired of having to deal with the tears, so she went ahead with it.

The injection totally cured her of the tears. She still had the paralysis to recover from, but at least she didn't appear to be sad while eating in public. That's what had bothered her more than anything.

She went out to lunch once a week with coworkers, and she always felt like everyone in the restaurant was staring at her, and they probably were. Now she can eat without feeling self-conscious.

By anon126021 — On Nov 11, 2010

I too have some facial paralysis because of bell's palsy and now I have crocodile tears. What do I do?

By anon41922 — On Aug 18, 2009

i have bell's palsy and this crocodile tears. what i do?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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