Polio Home > Treatment for Polio

Because there is no cure for polio, treatment usually consists of treating the symptoms until the patient recovers. This is called supportive care; it can include fluids, medications, and rest. If paralytic paralysis occurs, treatment may be more extensive and long-term. Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment for polio can include medications, antibiotic medications, and breathing assistance with a mechanical ventilator.

An Overview of Treatment for Polio

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

Treatment for Polio: Supportive Care

Supportive care as treatment for polio will depend on the symptoms of polio that a person experiences. For those with mild symptoms or aseptic meningitis, supportive care may include:
  • Fluids
  • Medications (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to control fever or pain
  • Rest until the fever improves.
In these cases, after 2-10 days, polio symptoms will usually have faded completely.
If paralytic paralysis occurs, treatment for polio 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.

Treatment for Polio: 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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