Post-polio syndrome, or PPS, is a condition that, until recently, baffled the medical community. Patients arrived at their doctors’ offices complaining of stiff and sluggish muscles, breathing difficulties, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Unable to trace the symptoms to other disease, eventually a link was made to the polio virus. It seems that survivors of polio can experience physical problems decades after their initial battle with the disease.
Symptoms of post-polio syndrome can appear quietly, seemingly without cause. Sometimes physical or emotional trauma will trigger the symptoms. However they to choose to appear, here are the most common symptoms to watch out for:
–Muscle and joint pain
–Sensitivity to cold
–Sensitivity to medications
–Lack of endurance
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from PPS, first of all see your doctor. Next, you might be heartened to know that researchers are zeroing in on a new treatment that they think could significantly benefit PPS patients. It involves the use of an antibody called “immunoglobulin.”
Immunoglobulin is involved in various immune responses in your body to bacteria and foreign substances like allergens, tumors, or transplanted tissues. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy has been successfully used to treat many conditions and diseases in which the immune system is significantly weakened.
In one clinical trial performed at Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm, 142 patients who were survivors of polio were recruited to study the effects of immunoglobulin therapy. The patients were randomly divided into two groups and were given either 90 g of immunoglobulin or placebo over the course of three consecutive days. The patients were then assessed for muscle strength, sleep quality, balance, fatigue, physical activity, and pain. The researchers found that the patients receiving the immunoglobulin therapy had improved muscle strength compared to the placebo group. The immunoglobulin group also reported a reduction in pain. The researchers concluded that immunoglobulin therapy is a supportive treatment option for patients with post-polio syndrome.
For most patients, immunoglobulin therapy is considered safe. It involves using an “extra” dose of antibodies already present in your body. In this sense, immunoglobulin therapy is not considered a drug treatment.
Immunoglobulin therapy is usually done intravenously in order to get the antibodies directly into your bloodstream. Oral immunoglobulin therapy is also available, though clinical trials have yet to prove if it is as effective as immunoglobulin given intravenously. Most people tolerate either treatment well. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about this treatment and whether or not it may be beneficial in helping you to manage post-polio syndrome.