Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library - A Service of The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network
A practical approach to the late effects of Polio
Charlotte Leboeuf

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Little is known about what factors may trigger the late effects of polio. Some people develop symptoms whereas others do not. It has been noted that the late effects of polio are unrelated to age (11,22,23) and psychological profile (11).

Overuse is commonly thought to be the main cause. It would be helpful to have the exact definition of "overuse" but, unfortunately, it does not exist. Strong, healthy muscles can obviously tolerate more activity than weak, deficient ones. Other factors can probably also affect your level of tolerance, such as your health, fitness, general fatigue, mental attitude, age and gender. The threshold for overuse would therefore be different for each individual and probably also differs within each individual over time.

It is important to know that muscles, which on the basis of manual muscle testing were thought to be either spared from the acute disease or to have fully recovered, may in fact have lost up to 50%, of their function. Manual muscle testing has been shown to be very inaccurate for measuring muscle strength (24).

Overuse of respiratory muscles has also been known to result in increased muscle fatigue, resulting in increasing difficulty with breathing.

Certain drugs affect muscles, nerves and the central nervous system. The New Zealand Polio Support Groups have issued a drug alert card. It warns against the following substances which they say should be avoided or used with caution:

-   beta blockers, e.g. propranolol (Inderal);
-   benzodiazepines, e.g. diazepam (Valium);
-   other central nervous system depressants, e.g. oxazepam;
-   general anaesthetics of all types.

After a general anaesthetic, people who previously had polio may take longer to recover and may experience respiratory distress. It is important that you tell your doctor about this before any surgery so that necessary precautions can be taken.

Some people report that their symptoms of LEOP started or deteriorated after a long period of immobility, e.g. following an accident or surgery.

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Copyright The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network 1997 - 2010.

This document comprises an index, introduction and sixteen other sections or subdocuments. Permission for printing copies is granted only on the basis that ALL sections are printed in their entirety and kept together as a single document.

Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Created: 30th December 1997
Last modification: 20th January 2010.

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