Polio is also known as poliomyelitis. Polio is a disease that primarily affects the nerves in the spinal cord and brainstem. Polio has the potential to cause paralysis or the inability to move specific limbs in severe cases. It may also make breathing difficult.
The majority of patients have no or minor symptoms, but some become paralyzed. Although wild poliovirus types 2 and 3 have been eliminated, type 1 continues to circulate in various regions of the world. Polio can be prevented with vaccination. Polio has no known cure till now.
70% to 95% of those infected with poliovirus exhibit no symptoms. Most persons who experience symptoms have the mildest kind (abortive poliomyelitis), which causes flu-like and digestive symptoms. Paralysis is one of the most severe signs of paralytic polio.


Type of polio

Abortive poliomyelitis

It causes flu-like symptoms as well as digestive problems. It only lasts a few days and has no long-term consequences.

Non-paralytic poliomyelitis

It produces flu-like symptoms and intestinal issues. It is simply temporary and has no long-term implications.

Paralytic poliomyelitis

It happens when poliovirus infects your brain and spinal cord. It has the potential to paralyze the muscles responsible for breathing, speaking, swallowing, and moving your limbs. It's termed spinal polio or bulbar polio, depending on which areas of your body are afflicted. Spinal and bulbar polio can coexist (bulbospinal polio). Paralytic poliomyelitis affects less than 1% of those who have polio.


Polioencephalitis is an uncommon form of polio that primarily affects children. It causes swelling in the brain.

Post-polio syndrome

It occurs when polio symptoms reappear years after the illness.


The symptoms can differ according to the types.

Abortive poliomyelitis symptoms

Symptoms of abortion poliomyelitis are similar to those of many other disorders. They appear three to seven days after infection and persist for a few days. Among the symptoms of abortive poliomyelitis are:

Non-paralytic poliomyelitis symptoms

The symptoms of non-paralytic poliomyelitis are similar to those of abortive poliomyelitis. Within a few days, other symptoms such as:

  • Stiffness in the neck.
  • You may have pain or a pins-and-needles sensation in your arms and legs.
  • A severe headache has struck.
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia).

Paralytic poliomyelitis symptoms

The symptoms of paralytic poliomyelitis are identical to those of abortive poliomyelitis or non-paralytic poliomyelitis. Additional symptoms might occur days or weeks later, such as:

  • Touch sensitivity.
  • Spasms in the muscles.

In addition-

  • Spinal poliomyelitis causes you to be unable to move your arms, legs, or both (paralysis).
  • Bulbar poliomyelitis makes breathing, swallowing, and speaking difficult.
  • The symptoms of bulbospinal poliomyelitis are similar to those of spinal polio.

Polioencephalitis Symptoms

Polioencephalitis symptoms can occur alone or in conjunction with flu-like symptoms. Among the symptoms are:

Post-Polio syndrome symptoms

The introduction of additional indications or symptoms, or the progression of issues, is referred to as post-polio syndrome. This typically occurs years after polio. The following are some common indications and symptoms:

  • Muscle or joint weakness and discomfort that worsens over time
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Breathing or swallowing difficulties
  • Breathing problems associated with sleep, such as sleep apnea
  • Cold temperature tolerance has decreased.

When To See The Doctor?

Polio symptoms are similar to those of other viral illnesses that damage the neurological system. It is critical to obtain an accurate and fast diagnosis.
If you previously had polio, consult your doctor if you experience new or severe signs or symptoms.

Cause of polio

A virus causes polio (poliovirus). Poliovirus causes flu-like symptoms by infecting your throat and intestines, and it can then spread to your brain and spine, paralyzing you.

How is polio transmitted?

Polio is transferred via coughing or sneezing or by coming into touch with an infected person's waste (feces) (fecal-oral route). It can spread through:

  • Not washing your hands after using the restroom or handling feces (like changing diapers).
  • Getting contaminated water in your mouth or drinking it.
  • Consuming foods that have come into contact with polluted water.
  • Swimming in polluted water. When someone with diarrhea swims in water, it might get polluted.
  • Sneezing or coughing.
  • Being in close contact to someone who has polio.
  • Contaminated surfaces should not be touched.

How is polio diagnosed?

Polio is diagnosed by a healthcare expert who does a physical exam, tests samples of bodily fluids, and asks you about your symptoms. It's critical to notify your provider if you've recently traveled.
Your physician may collect bodily fluid samples to test for symptoms of polio or other illnesses, such as:

  • Clear your throat of saliva.
  • Stool test
  • Blood test
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (liquid around your brain and spinal cord).
  • Because polio symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, your provider may order further testing to rule out other prevalent illnesses.


Polio is not treated with any special medications. Physical treatment will be provided if you have paralytic polio. If your breathing muscles are weakened or paralyzed, you will require mechanical ventilation, which is a machine that assists you in breathing.

Symptoms can be improved by:

  • Fluid consumption (such as water, juice, and broth).
  • Heat packs are used to relieve muscular pains.
  • Taking analgesics like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
  • Doing physical treatment and any exercise prescribed by your doctor.
  • Getting enough rest.
  • Splints or other devices that promote healthy spinal and limb posture or alignment

The Polio immunization schedule

Pediatricians recommend four polio vaccinations for children:

  • The first injection should be given to the baby at the age of two months old.
  • At 4 months old, the baby should receive a second shot.
  • The third shot is between the ages of 6 and 18 months.
  • Booster dose between the ages of 4 and 6.

If you have never been vaccinated for polio and it is advised that you do so as an adult, you will receive three shots:

  • Two doses should be taken in a gap of one to two months.
  • A third dosage is six to twelve months following the first.

Care at Medicover

At Medicover Hospitals, we have the most trusted team of doctors and medical experts who are experienced in providing excellent healthcare services to polio patients with compassionate care. Our diagnostic department is equipped with modern technology and equipment to conduct the tests required for the diagnosis of polio. We have an excellent team of specialists who collaborate to treat this condition with utmost precision. We provide all doses of polio vaccination to the kids.



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cause of polio?

A virus causes polio (poliovirus). Poliovirus causes flu-like symptoms by infecting your throat and intestines. It can then spread to your brain and spine, paralyzing you.

Is isolation necessary for polio?

Individuals who have been recognized as or are suspected of having poliovirus will be isolated to decrease the danger of virus transmission. In hospitals, the patient will be separated from other patients. Weekly stool specimens from the patient will be collected and examined at the national polio laboratory.

Who is more prone to polio?

People who have never gotten or completed the polio vaccination series are the most vulnerable to catching and becoming ill with poliovirus. In an unvaccinated person, the risk of serious sickness and death after poliovirus infection increases with age.

How long do polio symptoms last?

People with milder polio symptoms generally recover completely within 1-2 weeks.

How does polio spread?

Polio transmits from person to person by contact with an infected individual's feces (typically in a minute, undetectable amounts). It can also spread through an infected person's sneeze or cough droplets.

How to prevent polio?

To prevent polio:

  • Make sure you are up to date on your polio vaccines.
  • Make sure children are vaccinated with the polio vaccine

Where can I get my child vaccinated against polio?

You can get your child vaccinated against polio at Medicover Hospitals.

Do adults need the polio vaccine?

Adults who had a vaccine for polio in childhood don't need a polio vaccine.