Polio: When to seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Mar 01, 2012

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Polio insulinPolio is caused due to infection with a virus called polio virus. There is no drug to kill the virus if you get infected, but the infection can be prevented by vaccination. The infection has been eradicated from the western hemisphere, but continues to be endemic in some countries such as Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan even though efforts to control are ongoing.

Consult your doctor for polio vaccination if:

  • You are from a country where the infection has been eradicated and you are travelling to a part of the world where polio may still occur naturally or where oral polio vaccine (OPV) is still used such as Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The oral polio vaccine is made with live, but weakened (attenuated) polio virus and there is an extremely low risk of paralytic polio to travellers.
  • Your child’s polio vaccination series is not completed
  • Your child develops any kind of allergic reaction after receiving polio vaccine
  • Your child has significant redness or soreness or any other problem at the vaccine injection site
  • You are concerned about adult vaccination or have any other concerns regarding polio immunization
  • You had polio years ago and have recently developed unexplained weakness and fatigue

Polio still occurs in many parts of the world. Everyone, who gets the infection, does not develop paralysis. Severity of infection can vary from subclinical infections to life threatening illness especially when the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is affected.

Consult your doctor if you or any family member or friend has any of the following symptoms suggestive of polio:

  • Severe muscle aches or spasms
  • Sudden muscle weakness
  • Loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis) or muscle weakness, often worse on one side of the body (asymmetrical)
  • Pain or difficult in urination
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Drooling saliva
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Stiff neck and back

These are some symptoms that may occur in a person, who has paralytic polio. Several other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms. Your doctor will do tests to rule out other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms before making a polio diagnosis.



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