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Crocodile tears syndrome

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A syndrome characterized by the flow of tears, usually unilateral, upon eating or the anticipation of eating caused by damaged nerve fibres (which are normally for a salivary gland) that regrow aberrantly into the lacrimal gland, particularly after recovering from Bell (seventh nerve) palsy


Crocodile tears syndrome in medicine refers a syndrome in which the individual sheds tears and produces excess saliva during eating or while smelling food. This is due to a lesion in the nerve fibres which are originally for a salivary gland but subsequently regrow aberrantly into the lacrimal gland. This is particularly observed in individuals following a recovery from Bell's palsy. The first to describe this condition was in 1926 by F. A. Bogorad, a Russian neuropathologist.1

This condition is linked to the crocodiles that can generate tears while consuming their prey. The tears of the crocodiles though are not associated with emotion. The tears help to clean and lubricate the eye and are more prominent when the crocodiles have been out of the water for a long time. Another function of crocodile tears is to help rid of the excess salt intake particularly among crocodiles inhabiting the marine and salty habitats.

Also called:

  • crocodile tears
  • Bogorad's syndrome

See also:

1 Bogorad, F. A. (trans Austin Seckersen). "The symptom of crocodile tears", Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 02/1979; 34(1):74-9.