Polio is a medical condition that’s also referred to as poliomyelitis and infantile paralysis. The condition, caused by a virus, is extremely contagious and can lead to a number of debilitating symptoms and, if untreated, be fatal. There are two classifications of polio: asymptomatic and symptomatic. The majority of cases of polio are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t cause any symptoms. The other few cases—somewhere between 4 and 8 percent—are symptomatic and can cause a number of problems.
Polio, fortunately, has been eliminated in almost every country in the world. The three countries still known to contain an active polio virus are Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, so anyone traveling to these areas should be wary of contracting the illness—especially pregnant women, who are more likely to contract polio than other people. Unfortunately, even for those who experience asymptomatic polio, the majority of people who get the disease will experience what’s known as post-polio syndrome. This condition, which affects more than half of all people who contract polio, is known to cause a number of unpleasant (though far less fatal) symptoms such as muscle atrophy and difficulty swallowing or concentrating.
The symptomatic form of polio can be further broken down into different categories. The first form is more mild and is referred to as abortive polio. In this case, symptoms are less severe and a patient will be less at risk of losing their life. Paralytic polio—the more serious second variety—is much less common and only affects about one percent of patients struggling with polio. If you’ve been diagnosed with polio or are wondering whether or not you’ve contracted the illness, it can be helpful to read a list of symptoms to determine whether or not you’ll be in need of medical help.
Symptom #1: Fever
A fever is one of the most common symptoms of non-paralytic polio, which presents symptoms that are quite similar to flu. The reason that patients experience flu in the case of a viral infection is because of the body’s immune system.
When the body is attempting to eliminate a virus or bacteria, it raises the internal temperature of the body because it’s easier for the immune system to eliminate the pathogen. The fever tends to last for a few days or weeks.