What is post-polio syndrome (PPS)?

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Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that affects polio survivors years after recovery from an initial acute attack of the poliomyelitis virus. PPS is mainly characterized by new weakening in muscles that were previously affected by the polio infection and in muscles that seemingly were unaffected. Symptoms include slowly progressive muscle weakness, unaccustomed fatigue (both generalized and muscular), and, at times, muscle atrophy. Pain from joint degeneration and increasing skeletal deformities such as scoliosis are common. Some patients experience only minor symptoms. While less common, others may develop visible muscle atrophy, or wasting.

PPS is rarely life threatening. However, untreated respiratory muscle weakness can result in under ventilation and weakness in swallowing muscles can result in aspiration pneumonia.

The severity of residual weakness and disability after acute poliomyelitis tends to predict the development of PPS. Patients who had minimal symptoms from the original illness will most likely experience only mild symptoms of PPS. People who were originally hit hard by poliovirus and who attained a greater recovery may develop a more severe case of PPS with a greater loss of muscle function and more severe fatigue. It should be noted that many polio survivors were too young to remember the severity of their original illness and that accurate memory fades over time.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke .

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.