Polio is a disabling and life-threatening disease due to poliovirus. It spreads from person to person and leads to paralysis. Poliovirus continues to affect children and adults in some parts of Asia and Africa. Poliovirus is eliminated in the United States due to widespread vaccination. Nonetheless, it is still existing in other places of the world.
What Causes Polio?
Polio is caused by poliovirus and may lead to paralysis as it infects the spinal cord. The virus enters the body through the digestive and respiratory systems. Poliovirus can attack the nervous system and affects brain function.
What are the Symptoms of Polio?
About 90% of people infected with polio are showing mild symptoms. Symptoms start to onset within 35 days after getting the infection. Early symptoms of polio are similar to influenza flu. It includes:
- Pain in the arms and legs
- Stiff neck
Polio is a serious disease and can develop quickly. Seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:
- Trouble in breathing
- Paralysis in the lungs
Symptoms of paralytic polio syndrome include:
- Loss of reflexes
- Muscle aches
- Loose and floppy limbs
Post-polio syndrome includes:
- Muscle weakness
- Swallowing and breathing problems
- Sleep-related breathing
- Sleep apnea
- Reduced tolerance of cold temperatures
See a doctor right away if you develop any of the symptoms after traveling to polio-prone countries Call your doctor if:
- You or your child are showing symptoms and are not yet vaccinated.
- You or your child has an allergic reaction to the vaccine
- You or your child have a history of polio and are now having unexplained fatigue and weakness.
What are the Risk Factors of Polio?
- Muscle trauma
- Excessive exercise
- Unvaccinated individual
- Children younger than 5 years old
How to Diagnose Polio?
Doctors recognize polio by symptoms. A medical provider may also assess your medical history and other conditions. The diagnostic method for polio includes throat secretion sampling, stool sampling, and secretion of fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. To prepare for your doctor’s appointment, ensure to:
- Remember the onset of the symptoms
- Recall any exposure to possible sources of the infection
- Tell your doctor about your medical history
Treatment of Polio
Polio has no cure but, some medications may reduce the development of symptoms or control the spread of the infection. After diagnosing your condition, your doctor may recommend antiviral medications and polio vaccines. Heat and physical therapy may also help stimulate the muscle and improve mobility.