Polio is a contagious and viral illness. When very severe, it causes paralysis, difficulties in breathing and may result in death. You are advised to take the vaccination for polio if you are travelling to a country that has high prevalence of polio. If you have been previously vaccinated, you will have to receive a booster dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine. Immunity for this can last a lifetime.

There are two types of polio virus: non paralytic and paralytic.
Non-paralytic is a type of polio that does not lead to paralysis. It only causes flu-like symptoms which last for around ten days. This will cause the following symptoms:

  • Your child will be feverish

  • Your child will have a sore throat

  • Your child will have a headache

  • Your child will vomit frequently

  • Your child may feel fatigued

  • Your child may have a back pain or stiffness

  • Your child may have a neck pain or stiffness

  • Your child may feel pain or stiffness in the arms or legs

  • Your child may have muscle weakness or tenderness

  • Your child may have meningitis

The other form is paralytic polio. This is the more devastating kind. Paralytic polio has several types, based on the part of your child’s body that's affected —spinal cord (spinal polio), brainstem (bulbar polio) or both (bulbospinal polio). Initial signs and symptoms of paralytic polio are like non-paralytic polio; but later the symptoms change and following may appear as follows:

  • Your child may face loss of reflexes

  • Your child may have severe muscle aches or weakness

  • Your child may witness loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis), often worse on one side of the body

Post-polio syndrome is a cluster of signs and symptoms that appear after years after they have contracted polio. This can be around thirty five years later as well. Common signs and symptoms will include:

  • Muscle atrophy

  • Progressive muscle or joint weakness

  • Joint pain

  • Sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea

  • Cognitive problems, such as concentration and memory difficulties

  • General fatigue and exhaustion after minimal activity

  • Depression or mood swings

  • Breathing or swallowing problems

  • Increase sensitivity of cold temperatures​​

Inform your doctor at the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital if your child hasn’t completed the polio vaccination or if your child is having an allergic reaction after the vaccination. It is always better to consult your child specialist about polio before and after the vaccinations.​
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​
Your doctors will easily identify the symptoms which present themselves as stiff neck, abnormal reflexes and difficulty in swallowing. For surety, a sample of throat secretion, stool or cerebral fluid will be tested.

There is no treatment for polio.

However, your doctor will ask you to take comfort measures for your child. These may include:

  • Portable ventilators to assist breathing

  • A nourishing and nutritious diet

  • Bed rest

  • Pain relievers

  • Moderate exercise (physical therapy) to prevent deformity and loss of muscle function​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.