Paralysis, respiratory distress, and in severe cases, death are the possible consequences of poliomyelitis, a viral and contagious disease that mainly affects children. This disease is transmitted from person to person by a mechanism known as the fecal-oral route since its life cycle consists that once it enters our body, it multiplies in the intestine. It invades the nervous system, causing the characteristic symptoms. . The origin or spread of poliomyelitis is not well known, but it generates severe symptoms, initially fever and stiff neck. Polio disease has no cure, but it is preventable through the application of the vaccine. At FastlyHealwe will talk to you about poliomyelitis: symptoms and treatment.
Poliomyelitis: cause and risk factors
Polio is a viral and contagious disease that mainly affects children by attacking their central nervous system and can even cause death. It is only known that the polio epidemic began at the end of the 19th century, spreading via the fecal-oral route (through contact with an infected person).
Once the virus enters our body through the mouth or respiratory system and multiplies in the intestines or throat, it travels through the blood until it lodges in the central nervous system, causing the characteristic symptoms. Finally, the virus leaves the body through the feces. The cause lies in the poliovirus with its three highly virulent serotypes 1, 2, and 3.
Among the risk factors for getting polio or some conditions that facilitate the spread are:
- Unvaccinated patients.
- Poor hygienic conditions.
- Travel to areas with polio outbreaks.
Symptoms of polio
In the initial stages, the symptoms are similar to a viral picture and can sometimes go unnoticed or asymptomatic. Some of the main symptoms of polio are:
- Headache or headache.
- Throat pain.
- Pain in arms and legs.
- Neck stiffness.
- Rash on the skin.
All these symptoms in their initial stage can last approximately 5 to 14 days until they disappear. On the other hand, in severe cases, severe symptoms such as:
- Paresthesia is nothing more than the sensation of throbbing in the legs and arms.
- Meningitis is defined as an infectious process around the brain and spinal cord.
- Paralysis is evidenced by difficulty mobilizing the legs, arms, and respiratory muscles. This can be permanent damage or cause death.
The diagnosis of this disease is strictly medical. He will interrogate the symptoms, the patient’s medical history, and the pertinent physical examination, as in the initial stages, the poliomyelitis virus behaves like a viral picture. This can go unnoticed. However, in the case that it is suspected that poliomyelitis may exist, the doctor will indicate laboratory tests such as:
- Stool examination and throat swab, two samples each 24 hours apart.
- In addition, a lumbar puncture may be indicated to study the cerebrospinal fluid to determine whether or not there is evidence of the virus.
- On the other hand, another test used to diagnose this disease is the serological test in search of polio serotypes.
How to prevent polio
The best way to prevent polio is by taking the inactivated poliovirus vaccine, also known as Salk, or the live attenuated polio vaccine, known as Sabin, given by mouth. The latter is known to offer better protection against polio.
In children, the vaccine is given at two months, then at four months, the second dose and the third dose at 12 months, and a booster at five years of age. For adults, vaccination is recommended the first dose, then a second dose after 4 to 8 weeks after having given the first, and a third dose 6 to 12 months after the second.
Hygiene is also important when preventing the spread of this virus. For example, frequent hand washing is essential.
The treatment of polio is aimed at controlling the symptoms it generates disease. That is why the following actions are recommended:
- Rest is essential when treating polio.
- Moist heat is used to improve pain and muscle spasms characteristic of polio.
- Pain relievers are helpful in case of headaches and muscle pain.
- Physiotherapy minimizes the damage generated by poliomyelitis at the muscular level, allowing to regain mobility.
- In severe cases when the respiratory muscles are compromised, it is necessary to practice a tracheostomy as mechanical support for breathing. This delicate procedure allows people with poliomyelitis to be kept with artificial respiration. This will be suspended if the patient recovers using the muscles affected by the disease.
According to the Spanish Journal of Public Health, poliomyelitis represents between 0.1 and 1% of infections, frequent in older children and adults, with a fatality rate between 2 and 20% of cases. 
This disease has no cure. The best way to combat it is to prevent it. The prognosis of poliomyelitis that occurs asymptomatically or with the manifestation of mild symptoms similar to a viral picture usually has a complete recovery. In extremely severe cases, the patient can die.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.