Diabetes and Polio

I had Polio back in 1948, and became a Diabetic 6 yrs. later supposedly there is a connection between Diabetes and Polio. Won’t go into the details a little sad. Has anyone out there had a similar experience? It used to be thought that Diabetes was the result of an infection, Polio being a Virus. Please let me know. Thanks Jan

@JaniceD hi Jan, my Dad had polio, and I am sorry to hear about your diagnoses.

From what I have heard… any virus or fever can alter your immune system to eventually attack your beta cells and stop you from making insulin. For me it was chicken pox. Others, common cold. This story of having being sick just before onset is very common… it’s just the part about what sickness that varies.

I believe that this is the “non-inherited” part of type 1 diabetes. How many times do you hear “I am the only one in my family” or “no one else has this” story.

There is other research which suggests that your actual insulin production has a biomarker, some inherent defect in the beta cells that attract the autoimmune response and the ultimate destruction of your beta cells. I believe that this is the “inherited” part of type 1. I also “think” that you need both part A and Part B to get the proper explosion… I guess we are lucky!

also, in case someone thinks I know what the heck I am talking about, I am not a medical person or a research person. I just hang out with them.

This is something from circa 1950, an Iron Lung ward for children… lest we forget


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Hi Jan @JaniceD as Joe @joe says, almost any virus can be a precursor to TypeOne Diabetes. Several years ago, an informal survey was conducted amongst about 230 members of the Joslin Medalist Group - TypeOne for 50+ years - and a significant number of the respondents reported having had a virus or trauma before diabetes diagnosis. The trauma experienced was very significant amongst my age group for those living in London during the bombing of the 1940’s.
In the Dr. Elliot Joslin diabetes book I read in the 1950’s [Dr Joslin opened the Joslin Clinic in 1910]. he at that time was attributing “Juvenile Diabetes” to virus.
TypeOne is generally NOT inherited, the type of diabetes actually inherited is MODY which is caused by gene mutation and very seldom is it properly diagnosed so it gets lumped in with TypeOne and managed as if TypeOne.

Joe, your probably right, I did some research years ago out of curiosity, I got polio at age 3, had Sister Kinney treatments thus avoiding having any surgery and became a Diabetic at age 9. As you know I just celebrated my 65 yr since diagnosis so technically I’m in my 66 year. Aiming for 125 yrs. I am living a full life getting into as much fun trouble as possible. Thanks for the info, I was just curious. No one in my family has or had Diabetes. Don’t feel sorry about my diagnosis if it wasn’t for the Diabetes I may never have realized my strength and independence, I am ok with it. after 65+ years I should be. Have a great day, keep in touch. Bye Jan

Hi Dennis, You and Joe are probably right, I had read an article about several children that had died and during their autopsy, these children were Diabetics anyway, traces of Polio were found in their systems. It was briefly mentioned that there may be a possible connection between Diabetes and Polio. Dennis as you know I am into many things and don’t really let anything get in my way. Starting my new self preservation class the end of the month- Jujitsu can be fun in a wheelchair, and my target practice is getting better. Check us out “The Next Step” Peer mentoring. last weekend was quiet, everyone is getting over colds, etc. Don’t know if I told you, I got a new T-shirt this one says “this leg is taking longer that I expected to grow back” some one asked me how long I thought it would take, told them approx. a year, since a human takes 9 months and I needed a full size leg.,Didn’t happen But I won’t give up. Hope all is well with you. Were in the 60’s here in Az. so I am going to go dig in the dirt. Have a great day. Bye Jan

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Joe, Dennis, Why Diabetes, what is the common denominator, with all the auto immune diseases , why Diabetes, with so many diabetics in the US or any where, there has to be a connection. Joe I am I great shape, no residual from the Polio. but I am curious as to why there are so many of us. 29.3 million in the US all types, but why so many T1 I understand type 1.5 and type 2. Any on have any answers? Bye Jan

@JaniceD hi Jan, hey, regarding before, I am just sorry you had to go through it, I am sure it made you into a diamond but my sadness is that you’d probably be a diamond anyway.

Think about allergies (autoimmune attacks benign proteins, peanut, milk, soy, wheat, egg, or substances such as latex) your autoimmune system is just attaching what it thinks is a foreign and dangerous matter.

or think about RA: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and damage throughout your body. It’s essentially your autoimmune system attacking bone and connective tissues.

Think about Lupus, it is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue

Think about Multiple Sclerosis MS, an abnormal immune-mediated response (autoimmune malfunction) causes inflammation and damage to the myelin coating that is wrapped around nerve fibers (axons) in the central nervous system (CNS).

All of these things are like a computer virus in your autoimmune system. Causing redirection and often severe and debilitating responses.

We’re just not smart enough to “un-program” or “re-program” the autoimmune system yet. Once you are sensitized, your done. The crux of these conditions and diseases are related, and it is my humble opinion, deep inside autoimmune RNA lies the answer.

Joe, not to depress you any further but in addition to diabetes I have Seronegative RA, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, allergy to insulin, clotting problem, died in 2000 came back had my leg amputated to stop the pain and I am the perfect example of “hell on Wheels” I think what I am trying to say is —If yours was because of Chicken Pox is there a connection between CP and, Diabetes, could measles be tied into another disease Ie: MS, and Mumps into another: Kidney disease. Since we have all been inoculated against these childhood diseases, you’d think there would be a decline in them or in the MS etc. just a theory. When I was little if one of the kids got measles, mumps, chicken pox, all the kids went to that child’s house so that we would all get the problem and then become immune to it. just curious, if each virus has it’s own corresponding receiving disease, Ie:measles and MS. what do you think? As Dennis knows I belong to a group all of us in w-chairs called “the Next Step” peer mentoring we go shooting 1x a month, some go Kayaking ( these are people paralyzed from the waist down) and I finished my 6th Jujitsu class in November getting ready to start this years training. Corresponding diseases and viruses interesting concept, like + and - Some of my problems I inherited . Great discussion Have a great day. Bye Jan

@JaniceD have you seen the superhero movie “Unbreakable” anyway it reminds me of you.

what I think I am saying is that, in my uneducated head, it’s not chicken pox, MMR, polio that is related… but it’s what happens to your body during a autoimmune “event”. All these foreign and dangerous viruses cause an autoimmune reaction that (in my head) a set of cells recognize an intruding organism, and program your body’s autoimmune system to destroy it. The process is first detection, where certain cells “read” the code of this organism, then antibodys are produced and deployed specifically for that organism.

Consider that somewhere in the process, detection, replicating, or in the antibody production, an error occurs producing a rogue antibody (GAD65 is the biomarker) that doesn’t attack the intruding organism but in fact attacks beta cells.

So in my tiny head, it’s not Pox or polio directly, but it’s the fact you got sick, then in the process of trying to make antibodies you accidentally made a monster. And this is why stem cells, replacement smart cells or transplants won’t work… the program and the rogue antibody is still in there.

anyway that’s how I rationalize it… it’s clearly oversimplified but I think it’s the basic idea.

If we can “deprogram” this monster, we can cure many of these autoimmune diseases and probably end seasonal allergies at the same time… imagine the headline “End of the Spring Sniffles! oh … and no more [TYPE ONE] diabetes” Cheers Jan, you give a lot of us hope and inspiration.

I understand but what makes Diabetes the “go to disease” over something else, that’s why I think there may be a connection between each Virus and a disease, make any sense to you- What connects the two? My A1C is 7.5 and Doc is pleased, Kidneys, eyes etc all clear, celebration #2 Have a great day, Taking our new kid to the vet.

My parents have both passed so I’m recalling this from what I was told many years ago (I was diagnosed in 1963), but I do recall my mom telling me I had been sick with some sort of virus before my diagnosis at age 3. I also remember her saying that - at least at the time - there was a suspected link between viruses and diabetes, but I don’t know what came of that theory. Of course the symptoms of a virus (fatigue, vomiting, etc) could have been signs of the diabetes as well, so perhaps doctors suspect a virus caused the condition when the virus symptoms were assumed to point to something else. Diabetes - particularly Type 1 - was fairly rare back when we were diagnosed, so I can see why they may have suspected a virus first.

I still think there is a connection, but what I can’t figure out ( I am not a scientist etc) is there some connection between Ie: virus #1 and diabetes, Virus #2 and MS, virus #3 and some other disease. Does Virus #1 always cause Diabetes, and virus #2 always cause MS and so on. If that virus for 1,2,3 was identified maybe we could end Diabetes, MS etc. ( realize 1,2,3 and Diabetes and MS are examples) Just a thought or maybe a theory. I really think it’s a possibility, don’t you?

Jan, it is quite possible that your diabetes may have been “triggered” by your polio. As I recall, some of the studies that that pointed the finger at “a virus” also pointed the same finger at trauma.
As I recall from watching friends, neighbors and school mates knocked down by polio there was very significant trauma involved.

You, My Dear, are A SURVIVOR!!!

Dennis, don’t remember that far back re: trauma. After the polio I had all the childhood diseases , chicken pox, measles, mumps then the diabetes, so it could be a combination of all exposures. When I was growing up if one of the kids had mumps, CP or Measles parents sent all the kids to that kids house so we would all get M,M CP and build our immunity, now that I think about it forgetting the reasons it was done , it was kind of funny, but all the kids got sick at the same time. Between you and me and everyone else I set out to survive, didn’t know what else to do… It’s 45 here today 47 was our high, freezing in Arizona. Good news I changed my Insurance to Cigna, they have a spectacular Diabetic health plan. can you imagine $9 for a bottle of insulin, no premium and they are covering my Omni Pod. Have a great day—Bye Jan

I certainly don’t have as much experience as many of the folks on this site, but I do know a little bit about viruses and T1D. I did a study on this topic last year–here’s the link if you’d like to check it out! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iXa3MMkaIyzoYJvQ73RBnGOcrxOwwfShy9mj71Xfpiw/edit?usp=sharing

Great Job, I was totally unaware of that study. What I’d like to know : is it a certain virus that triggers Diabetes, or is it a virus in general. If we knew that then possibly a vaccine could be made . What makes Diabetes the disease that seems to be the most prevalent? Thanks for passing along the info, I read it, interesting. Have a great day. Keep me posted. Bye Jan

I had a polio vaccination in 1955 when I was in 2nd grade. Three months later I was diagnosed as Type 1. My mother’s mother died from diabetes. I never knew her, but I knew there was a hereditary factor. I think the polio vaccination just kicked it in.

At one time I ran into a study that stated the theory was that Diabetes was triggered by an infection, back when we all got injections I wonder if live virus was used, that would explain the infection theory, but later when sugar cubes were used, I don’t know if the same vaccine was used. I doubt live vaccine was used on sugar cubes. Back in the 80’s I joined a group called “Polio Echo” symptoms were returning and people thought their polio was returning, what really happened was that the muscles that weren’t injured took over the job of the injured ones in addition to their own functions, consequently wearing out sooner, polio not returning but orig, damage was causing problems. I wonder if the polio I had protected me from some of the problems for diabetics, I have none in my eyes, kidneys the only place it shows up is in my blood, and I have been a type 1 diabetic for 66 years as of last Feb. just a thought. Have a great day. Bye Jan

some of those symptoms are now called “Post Polio Syndrome” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-polio-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355669

Thanks joe,I know, but back then we didn’t have a clue, it was a good thing that polio didn’t come back to those of us that had it before. Hope all is well. Bye Jan