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What you should know about your Medications
A guide for Polio Survivors

J.M.Walker Ph.D., PT,
AM Whelan, Phar. D,

UK drug name version
Andrew Francis Forde
MRPharm. B.Sc.Hons

Originally written for Post-Polio Support (Inc)
11 Wyn Street, Christchurch 2,
New Zealand.

This is for your information - many medical professionals do not know PPS exists. You need to tell them you are a Polio Survivor and show them this.

Check with your Doctor, Dentist and Pharmacist before changing any of your drugs.

Why You Should be informed:

Medications (drugs), may be by prescription (Rx), or Over-The-Counter (OTC). As a polio survivor you should become an informed user of drugs because:

Who is at greater risk?

You may have experienced a 'full recovery', Grade 5, Manual Muscle Test of involved muscles and were unaware of any involvement of your respiratory muscles, however, research has shown that these so-called 'normal' muscles are not necessarily normal and may be supplied by only 60% of the usual number of spinal nerve cells.

What you should do:

  1. Change your lifestyle before resorting to use of an OTC drug or requesting a prescription.
  2. Always inform your doctor(s) about which drugs you are currently taking regularly, prescription and OTC drugs.
  3. Ask your doctor about potential side effects, particularly those that may increase or cause


Drugs & Their Effects.

Alcohol:- is a drug. It may

Individuals with any respiratory weakness should avoid alcohol, especially before bedtime.

Laxatives:- before medications try

Firstly change your diet and drink more fluids. Get more exercise if advised by your PPS doctor.

Cough Medicines & Expectorants.

May contain alcohol or a narcotic (e.g. codeine)

These suppress coughing or loosen secretions. They also cause drowsiness, decreased co-ordination, may give a feeling of chilliness.

Antihistamines, Allergy, Motion Sickness Drugs.

E.g. Triludan, Dramamine, Piriton. These cause drowsiness and can increase fatigue.


These are the most abused class of drugs and long term use can cause addiction. There are two classes:

  1. Non narcotic Analgesics.
    Although some may be produced over-the-counter they are real drugs, with potential side effects, interaction effects or dependency effects. Examples are: Paracetamol. Control pain only, not inflammation.

    Non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as: (OTC) Aspirin, Advil; Rx only medicines Orudis, Motrin, Indocin, Feldene. NSAIDs can control inflammation and pain but may cause dizziness, muscle weakness, drowsiness.

  2. Narcotic Analgesics.
    These may be used in dental surgery, other surgeries, or as sedatives, pain relieving drugs. Examples: Codeine, morphine.

Things to consider:


Avoid amphetamines
Some anticholinesterase drugs, e.g. pyridostigmine (Mestinon, Rx only), may influence fatigue level.
Avoid over exertion, use a work-rest lifestyle.

Antidepressants, Anti-anxiety drugs.

One third to one half normal dosage may be adequate. Many of these drugs (benzodiazepines e.g. Rx only Valium, Librium, Lorozepam) are also muscle relaxants, sedatives and may increase fatigue, decrease strength. Barbiturates may be used for sedative, hypnotic or anticonvulsant activities.

In Conclusion.

This is only a brief review. Drugs taken for cardiopulmonary and other problems may have important interactions with polio related symptoms.

Only you can identify yourself as a polio survivor to your doctor, dentist and pharmacist - ensure they know what drugs you are taking, and become familiar with potential side effects.

Always remember, it is no solution to take medications and continue to abuse your joints and muscles; change your lifestyle and protect your joints and muscles FIRST.


J.M.Walker Ph.D., PT
School of Physiotherapy

AM Whelan, Phar. D
College of Pharmacy

4th Floor, Forrest Building,
DAlhousie University,
5869 University Ave.,
Halifax, NS Canada B3H 3J5

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Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Document Reference: <URL:>
Created: 10th August 1997
Last modification: 16th September 1998

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