I thought this was a very interesting neuropathy. The pathophysiology involves a eustachian tube defect. Take that and add in the quick pressurization when flying and you get a droopy face! I’m wondering why it is only unilateral. Why wouldn’t the defect be found on both sides if it’s congenital/genetic? The abstract doesn’t directly state that the defect is congenital or genetic, but if there is no trauma involved, I would assume. That would be rather scary… trucking along on your airplane ride and suddenly you can’t feel or move half your face! It looks like each episode resolves quickly, but returns with each flying episode. I wonder how fast they resolve? A lot of people fly for business and it would be really awkward if you a new business prospect was picking you up at the airport and you show up with half your face drooping. I suppose if you knew it happened, you could be prepared with something to open up your sinuses and relieve the pressure some. Personally, I never fly without gum. Chewing gum on the decent helps my ears not feel like they’re going to explode. Or perhaps even take something that will open up your sinuses, so the pressure doesn’t get backed up, like Sudafed.
If someone came into my clinic complaining of symptoms like this (intermittent motor and sensory issues in facial nerve distribution) this certainly wouldn’t have been in my differential. I’d be thinking maybe trigeminal neuralgia (although this doesn’t necessary sound painful) or maybe multiple sclerosis or tumor or some other kind of restriction on the facial nerve or Bell’s palsy. So, add this one into your differential filing system!