World Polio Day: 5 symptoms of polio in children

As a parent, you must ensure that your child receives all the necessary vaccines on time. One of the most important is the polio vaccine to combat poliomyelitis or polio. It is a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects children under the age of five. According to the World Health Organization, the virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread. It occurs mainly via the fecal-oral route or via contaminated water or food, after which the virus multiplies in the intestine. From there it can reach the nervous system and lead to paralysis. Even though India will complete 12 polio-free years in January this year, you need to know everything you need to know to protect your child. On the occasion of World Polio Day, which falls on October 24, we would like to tell you the signs of polio in children.

Common symptoms of polio in children

Polio is a viral disease that affects the nervous system. Here are some symptoms:

1. Fever

Children can get a fever for various reasons. Sometimes this is due to a change in the weather or chilled food or drinks. But sometimes fever can be a sign of a health problem. Children with polio often develop high fever, which is usually one of the first symptoms, says Dr RD Srivastava, senior consultant and head of the department of pediatrics and neonatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.

Children must be vaccinated against polio. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

2. Fatigue

Children are generally full of life and energy. They run around and enjoy playing games outside. But if they experience general weakness and tire quickly, you should be careful.

3. Headache

Headaches can be caused by many things, including ice cream or frozen foods. It turns out that polio can also cause headaches, which may be a sign that the virus is affecting the nervous system.

4. Stiffness in neck and back

When we sit at a computer for too long, we get pain in the neck and back. In children, muscle stiffness or pain, especially in the neck and back, can be a symptom of polio.

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5. Muscle weakness or paralysis

According to Dr. Srivastava, muscle weakness is the hallmark sign of polio in children. In severe cases this can lead to paralysis, usually in the legs.

If your child has polio, he or she may also experience a sore throat, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or abdominal pain.

Child not interested in food
Children may experience a loss of appetite if they have polio. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Can polio be cured?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for polio, but it can be controlled through supportive care, says Dr. Srivastava. This includes rest, pain relief, and physical therapy to maintain muscle strength. In some cases, respiratory support may be necessary in children with severe muscle weakness.

The main way to prevent polio is through vaccination. The oral polio vaccine and inactivated polio vaccine are used to immunize children against the virus. While the inactivated polio vaccine is given by injection, the oral polio vaccine is given by mouth. Also, practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding open defecation, can help prevent the spread of the virus.

Global efforts to eradicate polio through vaccination campaigns have been successful in reducing the number of cases worldwide. According to the WHO, polio cases have fallen by more than 99 percent since 1988. The numbers fell from an estimated 350,000 cases in more than 125 countries to just six reported cases two years ago. So make sure your little one gets the polio vaccine before he or she celebrates his fifth birthday.

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