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Pink Eye

Pink Eye Normally Responds to At-home Treatment, Although Emergencies Can Occur

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is among the most common eye infections in the country. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s estimated that 3-6 million Americans are diagnosed with it each year, meaning you have a good chance of getting the condition at some point in your life. However, the risk decreases with age since it’s more prevalent in children.

Pink eye goes away when the infection is gone. In some cases, you might require prescription medications from your primary care provider. However, you will need to visit the emergency room if you have serious symptoms. Then, the emergency room staff can treat the infection while alleviating the symptoms.

What Causes Pink Eye? How Do You Get It?

You can get conjunctivitis from:

  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Allergies

Also, infants are at risk for the condition if their tear ducts don’t open all the way.

Mild Symptoms

Most people only experience mild symptoms. First, you’ll notice that the whites of your eyes look pink or red. Next, your eyelids will swell, and you’ll experience itching, burning, and irritation. Also, discharge and crusting around the eyes are common with this condition.

If a viral infection caused your pink eye, it’s likely to resolve within two weeks without treatment. However, if it lasts longer than that, you should visit your primary care provider. Then, your treatment might include antiviral medicine.

Bacterial pink eye also normally responds without medical intervention. Most people notice a significant improvement within several days, although it might take a full two weeks to go away. Depending on your symptoms, you might need to visit your doctor to receive an antibiotic.

If you have this infection due to allergies, you can alleviate your symptoms by removing the allergen from your environment. Then, the condition should clear up quickly. However, if you suffer from severe allergies, you might need prescription medication.

Is It Contagious?

If you have pink eye due to allergies, you cannot spread the infection. However, the viral and bacterial variations are contagious.

Should I Go to the ER for Treatment?

Although rare, this infection can lead to serious symptoms. You need to go to the ER if you experience any of the following:

  • Symptoms that get worse or fail to improve
  • Severe redness in one or two eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision when the eyes are free of discharge
  • Significant eye pain
  • Fever
  • Lots of discharge

At-home Treatment

If your symptoms are mild, you can get relief at home. First, don’t wear contact lenses or eye makeup until you recover. In addition, throw away any contacts or makeup you’ve used since developing the infection.

You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever, use a warm compress, and get relief with lubricating eye drops. Remember to change washcloths each time, so you don’t spread the infection.

Pink eye is rarely a serious condition. However, you should visit the emergency room if you have a fever, pain, sensitivity to light, or one of the other serious symptoms.