- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 45 views
Polio is a contagious viral illness that in its most severe form causes nerve injury leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.
In the U.S., the last case of naturally occurring polio was in 1979. Today, despite a worldwide effort to wipe out polio, poliovirus continues to affect children and adults in parts of Asia and Africa.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises taking precautions to protect yourself from polio if you're traveling anywhere there's a risk of polio.
Adults who have been vaccinated who plan to travel to an area where polio is occurring should receive a booster dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). Immunity after a booster lasts a lifetime.
Although polio can cause paralysis and death, the majority of people who are infected with the virus don't get sick and aren't aware they've been infected.
Some people who develop symptoms from the poliovirus contract a type of polio that doesn't lead to paralysis (abortive polio). This usually causes the same mild, flu-like signs and symptoms typical of other viral illnesses.
Signs and symptoms, which can last up to 10 days, include:
A sore throat
Back pain or stiffness
Neck pain or stiffness
Pain or stiffness in the arms or legs
Muscle weakness or tenderness
This most serious form of the disease is rare. Initial signs and symptoms of paralytic polio, such as fever and headache, often mimic those of nonparalytic polio. Within a week, however, other signs and symptoms appear, including:
Loss of reflexes
Severe muscle aches or weakness
Loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis)
Post-polio syndrome is a cluster of disabling signs and symptoms that affect some people years after having polio. Common signs and symptoms include:
Progressive muscle or joint weakness and pain
Muscle wasting (atrophy)
Breathing or swallowing problems
Sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea
Decreased tolerance of cold temperatures
Because no cure for polio exists, the focus is on increasing comfort, speeding recovery and preventing complications. Supportive treatments include:
Portable ventilators to assist breathing
Moderate exercise (physical therapy) to prevent deformity and loss of muscle function