Dear Dr. Gott: About 20 years ago, I started experiencing leg aches and generalized fatigue.These symptoms almost imperceptibly but inexorably have gotten worse, to the point where my legs ache all the time. I have no endurance for walking, my knees are weak, and I have to hold onto something when going up or down stairs.Over the years, I have sought medical help many times and have seen various specialists who have conducted tests and done blood work. They have no answers for me.
When I was 21, I had polio (I am now 60), and research on the Internet led me to the conclusion I have post-polio syndrome. However, the last neurologist I saw six months ago said she had never heard of such a thing, and no specialist has made a connection between the polio in my medical record and my current problems. Where should I go from here?
Dear Reader: To another neurologist. The National Center for Health Statistics indicates almost 450,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for the condition. In fact, 25 percent to 50 percent of those previously diagnosed with polio will ultimately have some degree of post-polio syndrome (PPS) later in life. PPS is a condition that affects polio survivors and presents 15 or more years following recovery from an attack of the polio virus. Research reveals it to be a slowly progressing condition marked by periods of stability, followed by a reduction in one's ability to perform daily functions previously taken for granted.
Symptoms may include muscular and general fatigue, muscle atrophy, advancing muscle weakness, increased skeletal deformities (such as scoliosis) and pain from joint degeneration. The severity of disability following the original attack will commonly determine the severity of PPS.
The criteria for diagnosis of PPS include prior paralytic poliomyelitis with evidence of motor-neuron loss; residual weakness; nerve damage as documented by electromyography; partial or complete functional recovery after the acute virus, followed by a period of 15 or more years of stable neuromuscular function with or without gradual onset of new muscle weakness; muscle or joint pain; and muscle atrophy. Symptoms remain for at least one year, and other neuromuscular disorders with similar symptoms are ruled out.
Research has not been promising. Scientists have concentrated on a number of medications that have failed to provide positive results. Despite this, there are recommended management strategies. Exercise with caution, and only under the direction of a qualified therapist. Avoid activities that cause pain or fatigue lasting longer than 10 minutes. Get adequate sleep, eat healthful meals, discontinue cigarette smoking, and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications for pain management.
Ask your local hospital or health care facility for the name of an appropriate specialist in your area. Affiliate with a physician experienced in treating neuromuscular disorders. Doctor shop until you find someone who can work with you.
To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Choosing a Physician." Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.
Write to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th fl., New York, N.Y. Peter Gott 10016.
Updated: 10/08/2009 01:42:20 AM PDT http://www.montereyherald.com/health/
|By John Shearer|
posted October 2, 2009
“I can remember waking up in bed afraid to try to move my limbs,” he said this week. “Everybody was terrified.”
Bob Neyland, the son of then-University of Tennessee football coach Gen. Robert Neyland and another boarding student from Knoxville at the then-military and all-male prep school, has similarly terrifying memories.
In fact, he had been in a car with another Knoxville classmate and football teammate, Tom Smoot, a short time before Smoot came down with polio-related symptoms and later died.
“Naturally I was kind of worried there for awhile,” the current Nashville resident said.
This weekend, these two and approximately two dozen of their classmates are gathering in Chattanooga for their 60th reunion. Besides remembering the good and fun times as classmates do, they will also continue nurturing their unique bond.
“It just developed a camaraderie among the class, and it has hung on for the last 60 years,” said Mr. Denton.
The class has also realized that, even though polio took a life, it never took the group’s will and spirit.
“We bonded because we shared something very important to us in the crisis of polio,” said Dr. Larry Bauman, an Atlanta area United Methodist minister and another classmate.
Although polio was eradicated in the United States after Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine in 1955, recent fears over the H1N1 flu virus have made the concerns of the Baylor students at the time easier to comprehend.
The Baylor crisis had struck the football team members, and theories have speculated that they may have contracted the spreadable disease by eating ice out of the same bucket at a practice or a game.
Besides Smoot, three other students – Pat Brooks, Hugh Chapman, and Jack Wright -- suffered some form of paralysis. Mr. Brooks is the only one of the three still living and is unable to attend the reunion, although he has sent a touching letter that Mr. Denton is to read to the gathering.
Three other classmates -- Bauman, Phil Kistler, and future millionaire Coca-Cola bottler Frank Harrison, who was remembered as a regular guy by his Baylor classmates -- had mild symptoms.
The school was also forced to close its doors for several weeks and cancel the football season after one game, realizing it had a far greater opponent with which to deal.
As the crisis finally passed and students returned to school, headmaster Herb Barks Sr., football coach Humpy Heywood and other staff members and school officials drew praise not only for their adept handling of the tense situation, but also for their compassion.
However, they and all the students had a heavy heart over the death of Smoot, who had been transferred to a Knoxville hospital near his family’s home before he died. His best friend at Baylor had been future Chattanooga automobile dealer John Hicks.
Smoot’s story was especially disheartening because he was the class president and the football captain, who would likely have played major college football.
“You don’t find many people who excelled the way he did in both areas,” said Mr. Neyland, adding that Smoot was the strongest player on the team and seemed the least likely to succumb to a disease like polio.
Mr. Denton agreed. “He was a natural leader,” he said. “And talk about being tough on a football field. When he hit you, it hurt.”
Smoot’s younger brother, Al Smoot, who graduated from Baylor in 1955 and planned to travel to the reunion from his home in Minnesota, would often only get to see his brother during school breaks. However, he cherished the times he did see him.
“Tom was always my mentor,” he said. “Tom was sort of the star of the family.”
As the years have passed, the Baylor Class of 1949 has continued to come to terms with the tragedy of long ago in a collective sort of way.
“The bonding that took place in our class was not because we loved each other so much, but that we shared a common grief and love for Tom Smoot,” said Dr. Bauman.
Besides the collective bond, Mr. Denton said he also takes solace nowadays in the fact that a cure for the horrible and crippling disease of polio was eventually found.
"When I think about Baylor, I think about how lucky I was to see my two kids take the sugar cubes and know that they would never have to face what I and the others went through,” he said with emotion.
Photo by John Shearer
Pete Denton and his wife, Bobbie.
Also In Global Health News: Drought In East Africa; Improving Food Processing In Africa; Hajj Pilgrims Must Take Polio Vaccine; Fighting Insecticide-R
Main Category: Aid / Disasters
Also Included In: Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses; Tropical Diseases; Nutrition / Diet
Article Date: 30 Sep 2009 - 3:00 PDT
Oxfam Launches $15M Emergency Appeal For 'Severe' East African Drought
"A severe and persistent five-year drought" is pushing "[m]ore than 23 million people ... towards severe hunger and destitution across East Africa, international aid agency Oxfam has warned as it launches a £9.5 million [about $15 million] emergency appeal," the U.K.Press Association reports (9/29). According toReuters/New York Times, "Malnutrition is now above emergency levels in some areas and hundreds of thousands of valuable cattle are dying" (Wallis, 9/29). Although rains are due next month in the region, the outlook for relief isn't high. "Oxfam said there were fears that east Africa could be hit by floods that would destroy crops and homes, as well as increasing the spread of water-borne diseases,"
Reuters/New York Times reports (9/29).
General Mills Joins USAID, PEPFAR To Improve Food Companies In Africa
During the closing of the Clinton Global Initiative on Friday, General Mills announcedit was teaming up with PEPFAR and USAID in a public-private partnership that will "link the technical and business expertise of … General Mills, and up to nine additional food companies, with up to 200 small and medium-sized mills and food processors in 15 sub-Saharan African countries." The goal is to improve the companies' ability to produce high-quality and nutritious food at an affordable price, the Associated Press/WKBT.com reports (9/29).
Saudi Arabia To Administer Oral Polio Vaccine During Pilgrimage To Mecca
The New York Times reports that health officials in Saudi Arabia recently announced that populations making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca will have to take an oralpolio vaccine - a symbol of the kingdom's "aggressive fight against polio, which has hovered on the brink of eradication for years." The news comes just days after Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal committed $30 million toward global polio eradication (McNeil, 9/28).
Exposing Mosquitoes To Fungus Increases Their Vulnerability To Insecticides
Infecting insecticide-resistant mosquitoes with a fungus kills them at a higher rate than exposure to insecticides alone, according to a study published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, SciDev.Net reports. The researchers are "now attempting to create a long-lasting fungal product that can be used in the field in Africa" and "trying to determine the best locations and delivery methods for the fungus," the news service writes (Nightingale, 9/28).
This information was reprinted from globalhealth.kff.org with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery atglobalhealth.kff.org.