What is polio?
Your nervous system
How do you get polio?
How poliovirus attacks your body
- Spinal polio: this is the most common form of polio. It occurs when the poliovirus infects and kills motor neurons in the grey matter in the ventral horn of the spinal column. As the cells die, the muscles of the trunk and limbs are no longer able to receive signals from the CNS, so they become weak and begin to atrophy. In just a short period of time (a few days) they may become completely paralyzed.
- Bulbar polio: this form of polio occurs occurs in a small number of cases, and is caused by the poliovirus infecting and killing neurons within the bulbar region of the brain stem. This weakens the muscles we use to speak, swallow and breathe.
- Bulbospinal polio: About one in five people with paralytic polio have both bulbar and spinal infection. In these cases, the poliovirus also infects the upper part of the cervical spinal cord, causing paralysis of the diaphragm.
What are the symptoms of polio?
How likely are you to get polio?
How can you prevent yourself against polio?
How is polio diagnosed and treated?
Consider the following:
- Post-polio syndrome*: If you have had paralytic or nonparalytic polio, you may experience polio-related symptoms years later (the average time is about 35 years, but onset may occur anytime from around 10 years to more than 60 years later). This is known as post-polio syndrome. It can happen suddenly or gradually, and is related to the damage the poliovirus did to your neurons when you first became infected. Common signs and symptoms include progressive muscle weakness and difficulty with coordination, general fatigue, muscle atrophy, sleep and breathing disorders, depression, and cognitive problems such as memory loss. It is thought that the symptoms may be related to the remaining healthy neurons being unable to maintain the production of new nerve roots, so that eventually denervation is greater than reinnervation.