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Polio and post-polio syndrome

Polio is caused by a virus that spreads easily. The virus attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis. Today, polio is a rare disease in the United States and most countries thanks to the polio vaccine. But, people who have had polio can develop post-polio syndrome years after getting better.

Symptoms of post-polio syndrome include:

  • New weakening in muscles that were affected by the polio infection when you first got it
  • Tiredness
  • Joint pain

If you have had polio, post-polio syndrome cannot be prevented or cured. But the polio vaccine, also called IPV, can protect children today from ever getting the virus.

If you have post-polio syndrome, you might need to make lifestyle changes to manage your symptoms. Pace your activity level throughout the day. Overuse or misuse of muscles and joints can lead to pain, weakness, and fatigue. Certain types of physical activity can help maintain function. Work with an experienced doctor or physical therapist to find physical activities that are right for you. Also, getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, not smoking, and certain medicines may help some of the symptoms of post-polio syndrome.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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