Post-Polio Syndrome - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of post-polio syndrome?

Symptoms include slowly progressive muscle weakness, unaccustomed fatigue (both generalized and muscular), and, at times, muscle atrophy. Pain from joint degeneration and increasing skeletal deformities such as scoliosis are common. Some patients experience only minor symptoms. While less common, others may develop visible muscle atrophy, or wasting.

Post-polio syndrome is rarely life-threatening. However, untreated respiratory muscle weakness can result in underventilation, and weakness in swallowing muscles can result in aspiration pneumonia.

The severity of residual weakness and disability after acute poliomyelitis tends to predict the development of post-polio syndrome. Patients who had minimal symptoms from the original illness will most likely experience only mild post-polio syndrome symptoms. People originally hit hard by the poliovirus and who attained a greater recovery may develop a more severe case of post-polio syndrome with a greater loss of muscle function and more severe fatigue. It should be noted that many polio survivors were too young to remember the severity of their original illness and that accurate memory fades over time.

According to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 440,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for post-polio syndrome. Researchers are unable to establish a firm prevalence rate, but they estimate that the condition affects 25 percent to 50 percent of these survivors, or possibly as many as 60 percent, depending on how the disorder is defined and which study is quoted.

Patients diagnosed with post-polio syndrome sometimes are concerned that they are having polio again and are contagious to others. Studies have shown that this does not happen.

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Comment from: Greek, Female (Patient) Published: September 03

Choking, joint pain and depression became my biggest challenge 10 years ago. Despite my positive character, the post-polio syndrome (PPS) takes a toll on me and I feel overwhelmed that doctors know so little about it! I wish I knew doctors that do not see me as an experiment. I was only 8 months old in Greece when I came down with paralytic polio but I was determined to use 80% of my mobility. The fight these days is not only physical but emotional too!

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Comment from: Linda G., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 05

I have every symptom from the post-polio syndrome. I am 59 years old and contracted polio at the age of 18 months. Along with the normal symptoms, I have bouts of chronic costochondritis. I have so much shoulder, neck and chest pain which makes it very difficult to wear a bra. My breasts are very uneven from muscle mass damage. I am so tired of having to take pain medication to wear a bra that I'm willing to have my breast removed. I am seeing a surgeon on May 14th, 2015.

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