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Acute Flaccid Myelitis: Causes ,Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Jul 13, 2023

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Causes ,Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare but serious disease, causes damage to the spinal cord. Possible side effects include a sudden weakening of the arms or legs as well as a loss of muscle tone and reflexes. The condition primarily affects young children.

Most children have a mild respiratory illness or fever brought on by a viral infection one to four weeks before the onset of acute flaccid myelitis symptoms.

If you or your kid begins to experience symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis, get medical attention immediately. A symptom's development can happen quickly. Hospitalization is necessary when a ventilator is required for respiratory support.

Causes Of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

A viral infection called an enterovirus may be the source of acute flaccid myelitis. Enteroviruses in youngsters can be the cause of fever and respiratory infections. It is unclear why certain enterovirus-infected individuals experience acute flaccid myelitis.

Acute flaccid myelitis symptoms can resemble those of the poliovirus disease. However, the poliovirus has not been the cause of any acute flaccid myelitis cases in the United States.

Symptoms Of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Acute flaccid myelitis signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Sudden weakness in the arms or legs
  • The sudden decrease in muscular tone
  • Sudden lack of reflexes

Various more warning signs and symptoms include:

  • An inability to move the eyes or drooping eyelids
  • Facial weakening or droop
  • Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
  • Body aches

Uncommon signs may include:

  • A tingling or numb feeling
  • Inability to urinate
  • As a result of the breathing muscles weakening, severe symptoms include respiratory failure. Additionally, it is possible to develop blood pressure instability and life-threatening variations in body temperature.

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Diagnosis Of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

A comprehensive medical history and physical examination are the first steps the doctor takes to diagnose acute flaccid myelitis. The physician might advise:

  • Nervous System Examination. The areas of the body where you or your child exhibit weakness, poor muscle tone, or slowed reflexes are examined by the doctor.
  • Imaging using Magnetic Resonance (MRI). The doctor can examine the brain and spinal cord with this imaging technique.
  • Experiments in the lab. For laboratory testing, the doctor may collect samples of the cerebrospinal fluid, respiratory fluid, blood, and feces in addition to the patient.
  • A mental examination. This test can measure the speed at which an electrical impulse travels through the nerves and the way in which muscles react to signals coming from the nerves.

Acute flaccid myelitis is difficult to diagnose as it exhibits many of the same symptoms as other neurological conditions like Guillain-Barre syndrome. 

Treatment Of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Acute flaccid myelitis does not currently have a specific treatment available. A neurologist, a medical professional who focuses on treating conditions of the brain and spinal cord, could suggest physical or occupational therapy to relieve arm or leg weakness. Physical therapy may enhance long-term rehabilitation if it is started during the early stages of the illness.

Additionally, the doctor can advise using corticosteroid medications, antiviral treatments, or immunoglobulin containing healthy antibodies from healthy donors to treat the condition. Alternative therapy options include plasma exchange, which involves removing and replacing blood plasma. It's unclear, though, if these treatments are beneficial.

Surgery to transfer muscles and nerves is occasionally performed to enhance limb function.

How Can Acute Flaccid Myelitis Be Prevented?

Acute flaccid myelitis cannot be specifically prevented. However, avoiding a viral infection can aid in lowering the likelihood of developing acute flaccid myelitis.

Take the following actions to help prevent you or your kid from contracting or spreading a viral infection:

  • By Washing hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Don't touch your face with dirty hands.
  • Keep your distance from sick folks.
  • Surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Use a tissue or the upper sleeve of your shirt to cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep infected children at home.

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