Polio (poliomyelitis)

Polio is a very contagious illness that has almost been wiped out because of the efforts of the medical community. The illness can cause paralysis and death in very severe cases, but the vaccine that is commonly given in childhood has caused the rate of the disease to be very rare in cases that are contracted in the natural way and not from the vaccine.

There are still parts of the world where polio is a risk and you should use caution when you are traveling to these locations. Many doctors recommend that you get a booster shot before you travel to these locations where there may be a risk of contracting the illness.

There can be very mild cases of the illness that do not lead to paralysis or death and can cause symptoms that are very much like the flu. The symptoms can include fever, sore throat, vomiting, headache, fatigue, back and neck pain, muscle tenderness and meningitis. Many times these milder symptoms will last anywhere between two and ten days. Some people may have even been infected with polio and not even known that they had the illness.

The paralytic form of the disease can cause a much different result than the milder form. In the early stages of the illness the patient may have the exact same symptoms that occur in the milder non paralytic polio but they continue long after the ten days and include other symptoms as well. These symptoms can include severe aches in the muscles and spasms, loose limbs, and a loss of reflexes. When paralysis occurs, it can happen very suddenly.

Some patients will suffer from symptoms after they have recovered from the illness. Many of these symptoms can be disabling and it is called post polio syndrome. The symptoms of this condition include muscle atrophy, easily fatigued, muscle pain and weakness that is progressive.

There is no cure for polio and the treatment for the illness often includes an effort to relieve the pain of the symptoms. The treatment for polio will include bed rest, exercise for the muscles, pain medication, assistance for breathing, and a healthy diet.

Children are given the vaccine for the illness to prevent the occurrence of polio and it has largely been very successful. However, there are cases when the illness is caused by the vaccine, but these cases are extremely rare and often only cause the mildest form of the illness.

Check with your doctor to find out if you have had the polio vaccination when you were a child. If you cannot document your vaccinations, you should consider getting the vaccination series again to make sure that you are protected from the illness. If you plan to be traveling to areas where you are not sure about the status of polio, talk to your doctor about the booster shot. Once the booster is given, you are protected for your lifetime from contracting polio.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of polio, it is important that you contact your doctor to be tested for the illness. Because of its contagious nature, it is vital that you learn whether you have polio or not and are kept away from those who have not been vaccinated. Likewise, stay away from those who have polio if you have not had a vaccination or are unsure of your vaccination status.

The polio vaccination has done wonders to control and almost eliminate this potentially life threatening illness. What was once a very serious health threat is now relatively uncommon in most areas of the world. When traveling it is a good idea to do some research on the types of vaccination that you might need before your trip.

Last updated on May 6th, 2009 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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