Diagnosis of Polio

Updated at: Jan 18, 2013
Diagnosis of Polio

Polio is diagnosed on the basis of history and clinical presentation. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will do tests. Find out more, here.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Communicable DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Mar 01, 2012

Diagnosis of polioPolio is diagnosed on the basis of history and clinical presentation. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will do tests.

Medical history: Some questions that your doctor may ask include:

  • What are your symptoms
  • When did the symptoms start
  • Are you taking any medications

Physical exam: During physical exam, your doctor will look for neurological signs and symptoms of polio such as limb weakness or paralysis (it is usually asymmetrical i.e. one side of the body may be affected more), muscle reflexes, swallowing or breathing problems, abnormal muscle contractions and decreased muscle tone.

Lab tests for polio:
Tests are done to confirm polio. Some tests that are done to confirm polio infection include:

  • Virus culture: The laboratory diagnosis of polio is confirmed by isolation of virus by cultures, from the stool or throat swab or cerebrospinal fluid (rare). In an infected person, the virus is most likely to be cultured in stool cultures.
  • Serologic test: Acute and convalescent serum sample may be tested for rise in antibody titer (antibodies to the poliovirus), but the report can be difficult to interpret as in many cases, the rise in titer may occur prior to paralysis.   
  • Cerebrospinal fluid test: Infection with polio virus may cause an increased number of white blood cells and a mildly elevated protein level in cerebrospinal fluid.

Differential diagnosis: Your doctor may do tests to rule out other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms before making a polio diagnosis. Some other medical conditions that may have similar symptoms include:

  • Snake bite (such as a cobra)
  • Poisoning
  • Infections such as diphtheria, tick paralysis, rabies
  • Botulism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Transverse myelitis





All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however Onlymyhealth.com does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK