What Information Do Doctors Use to Diagnose Polio?


Quick Answer

Doctors diagnose polio by analyzing stool, cerebrospinal fluid and throat secretions to check for the poliovirus, according to Mayo Clinic. Doctors also evaluate physical symptoms of the disease when making a diagnosis.

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Full Answer

There are two types of polio: paralytic and non-paralytic. Symptoms of non-paralytic polio resemble the flu and include fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting and fatigue, notes Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of paralytic polio include loss of reflexes, severe muscle weakness and pain, and loose and floppy limbs.

Polio is caused by contact with the feces of an infected person through contaminated food or water and direct contact, reports Mayo Clinic. People who have never been vaccinated for the disease are at risk of contracting the poliovirus. Of this group, young children, pregnant woman and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk for paralysis. People living in areas with poor sanitation are at risk.

As of 2015, there is no cure for polio, according to Mayo Clinic. Doctors usually rely on supportive treatments to aid the recovery of patients. These treatments include bed rest, pain relievers, physical therapy, portable ventilators and a nutritionally balanced diet. Permanent paralysis and deformities of the hips and legs are some complications of the disease. Some of these deformities can be fixed with surgery.

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