Contributors: Marie Hunt and Dr. Emran from Simple Health Radio
On this episode of Simple Health Radio, Dr. Emran discusses the rare but serious disease, Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). AFM is not a new disease, but there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases since 2014 with additional increases every two years.
It is most common in healthy, young children; however, some adults are also affected. Out of 1 million people, only 1 or 2 will develop the disease.
The symptoms are very similar to polio. AFM affects the spinal cord that causes loss of the arm or leg strength that eventually leads to paralysis or death. Other symptoms can include loss of facial movement, drooping eyelids, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing.
Many of these symptoms tend to develop after a viral infection; however, it is not clear how the infection triggers AFM in all cases.
AFM is extremely difficult to diagnose due to similar symptoms of other neurological diseases. Doctors will examine the brain and spinal cord through an MRI, test the cerebro-spinal fluid (fluid around the brain and spine), check muscle response through an EMG, and check nerve conduction.
The current treatment for AFM is on a case by case basis and the plan is determined by a neurologist. The neurologist may recommend occupational or physical therapy to improve arm and leg function but there is no cure.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues to investigate to find out more about the causes of AFM in the hopes of finding ways to prevent the disease.
If you have questions or concerns visit with your primary doctor or contact Dr. Emran through one of his social media channels below.
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