Polio Home > Polio Treatment

There is no treatment that is capable of killing the poliovirus. Therefore, when dealing with polio, treatment centers around relieving symptoms as the body fights the virus. While there is no cure, most people recover from polio without any long-term problems.

An Overview of Treating Polio

Currently, there is no treatment that can kill the poliovirus. Antibiotics or other medications for polio are not effective because polio is caused by a virus. Therefore, treatment focuses on providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the poliovirus. This is called supportive care.

Supportive Care as a Polio Treatment

Supportive care as a treatment for polio will depend on the symptoms that a person experiences. For those with mild symptoms or aseptic meningitis, supportive care may include:
  • Medications (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to control fever or pain
  • Fluids
  • Rest until the fever improves.
In these cases, after 2-10 days, polio symptoms will usually have faded completely.
If paralytic paralysis occurs, treatment may be more extensive and long-term. Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment for polio can include:
  • Medications to reduce pain and improve strength
  • Antibiotic medications for bacterial infections
  • Breathing assistance with a mechanical ventilator.

Visiting the Doctor

If someone becomes ill from possible polio symptoms, he or she should seek medical attention right away. It is important for the person to call the doctor in advance so that he or she doesn't have to sit in the waiting room for a long time and possibly infect other patients.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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