All You Need To Know About Acute Flaccid Myelitis
AFM or Acute Flaccid Myelitis is a rare and serious disease that affects the spinal cord called gray matter, the part of the nervous system that carries messages to and from the brain. This is a condition in the nervous system where the muscles and reflexes of the body to weaken. You may hear AFM referred to as a “polio-like” condition, but all the stool specimens from AFM patients that we received tested negative for poliovirus.
What are the symptoms of AFM?
Arm or leg weakness
Loss of muscle tone and reflexes
Facial droop or weakness
Difficulty moving eyes
Pain in arms or legs
Pain in neck or back
Difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids
Facial droop or weakness
Difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech
Have numbness or tingling
Be unable to pass urine (pee)
The most severe symptoms of AFM are:
Respiratory failure: This happens when the muscles involved with breathing become weak and can require a ventilator (a machine to help them breathe).
Serious neurologic complications such as body temperature changes and blood pressure instability that could be life-threatening.
How would you know if you have acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?
Laboratory tests are used to diagnose a person for AFM. This will also need a detailed physical examination, studies on someone’s nervous system and spinal cord imaging via CT or MRI. Cerebrospinal fluid may also be needed for the detection of viruses as AFM shares many of the same symptoms as other neurological diseases such as transverse myelitis or Guillain-Barré syndrome. Some neurologists may do nerve conduction tests.
How do I get rid of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?
There is no specific treatment for AFM, but a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses (neurologist) may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis. For example, neurologists may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness caused by AFM. We do not know the long-term outcomes (prognosis) of people with AFM. Treatments that have been tried include immunoglobulin, corticosteroids, plasma exchange, and antiviral therapy, but there is no clear evidence that any of these treatments affect recovery. To prevent infections by AFM-related viruses, specialists recommend staying up-to-date with polio vaccines and to minimize exposure to mosquitoes and washing your hands often with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people.