Crying crocodile tears

The term crocodile tears is used in everyday language to describe tears that a person produces when they are not feeling sad.  It stems from a formerly held belief that crocodiles produce tears when they are eating their prey.  However, the term crocodile tears,  when used in a medical context, refers to tearing which occurs in parallel with normal salivation when eating.


It can occur when recovering from facial palsy usually appearing during the synkinetic stage of recovery.  It occurs when regrowth of damaged nerve fibres, normally destined for the salivary glands, reroute and mistakenly regrow into a tear gland.  This results in involuntary tearing from the affected eye when eating.  The medical term for this is gustatory hyper lacrimation.

What can help 

Tearing when eating can be a distressing symptom and people with facial palsy can become self-conscious or embarrassed when eating in company. Evidence suggests that an effective and safe treatment for crocodile tears is an injection of Botulinum Toxin into the tear gland.

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Beyond 16 weeks

Surgical options

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