- Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow
- Take the Tummy Trouble Quiz
- Hepatitis C Slideshow Pictures
- Polio facts
- What is polio?
- What is the history of polio?
- What causes polio?
- What are risk factors for polio? How does polio spread?
- What are polio symptoms and signs?
- How do physicians diagnose polio?
- What is the treatment for polio?
- What is the prognosis of polio?
- Is it possible to prevent polio? Is there a polio vaccine?
- Polio-like illness
What are polio symptoms and signs?
Fortunately, the vast majority of patients who are infected with polioviruses showed little or no symptoms and, in fact, don't know that they actually had an infection with polioviruses. Those patients who do show symptoms can be placed in one of two major groups; non-paralytic polio (minor) and paralytic polio (major).
Non-paralytic polio infections develop flu-like symptoms that consist of fever, sore throat, headache, malaise, and muscle stiffness (neck, back). These symptoms last about 10-20 days and they completely resolve. Although paralytic polio symptoms mimic the non-paralytic polio symptoms for about a week, increasing symptoms of severe muscle aches and spasms, loss of reflexes, and flaccid paralysis (limbs become floppy) begin to develop. In some individuals, the paralysis may occur very quickly (within a few hours after infection occurs). Sometimes the paralysis is only on one side of the body. The musculature involved with breathing may become inhibited or nonfunctional, and these patients need assistance with breathing.
Post-polio syndrome describes symptoms that develop in patients about 30 to 40 years after an acute polio illness. The cause is unknown. Post-polio syndrome symptoms include
- muscle pain,
- joint pain, and
- spinal changes such as scoliosis, spondylosis, and/or secondary nerve root and peripheral nerve compression.
How do physicians diagnose polio?
A physician may make a preliminary diagnosis of polio from the patient's history and physical examination. For example, if the patient has not been vaccinated and has had contact with individuals who have polio and has symptoms such as muscle stiffness and difficulty with limb movements, breading or swallowing, then a preliminary diagnosis is made.
A definitive diagnosis is done by cultivating poliovirus from the patient's mucus, stool, and/or cerebrospinal fluid. In addition, there are serological tests that detect antibodies directed against poliovirus.