Why Pink Eye Is Common During Cold And Flu Season

Cold and flu season is washing over East Tennessee like a tsunami, closing schools and keeping kids and adults alike on the couch. Unfortunately, pink eye rides on the coattails of flu and cold season and is adding to many people’s uncomfortable symptoms.

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and helps to keep the eyelid and eyeball moist. The condition can be caused by bacteria, a virus, allergens, or other irritants. The same viruses that cause colds and the flu—such as adenovirus, enterovirus, and influenza virus—can also cause pink eye.

Cold and flu viruses can cause pink eye by travelling through the tear duct from the nose to the eye. However, most pink eye cases are caused by failing to wash your hands after you blow your nose or if you unknowingly touch a surface or object that someone with the flu or a cold has recently touched. If you then rub your eyes, you’re transferring the virus or bacteria to your eyes.

Pink Eye Symptoms

Pink eye is highly contagious from eye to eye, and from one person to another. It causes uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness or burning
  • Grittiness
  • Watery eyes
  • White or greenish discharge
  • Crusting over eyelashes, especially after sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain

Treatment For Symptoms

In order to avoid getting pink eye during cold and flu season, wash your hands often and keep them away from your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, make sure you thoroughly wash and dry your hands before putting the lenses in or taking them out.

If you do develop symptoms of pink eye, it’s important to get your eyes checked by an eye doctor so they can properly evaluate your eyes and determine if antibiotic eye drops are necessary. Most cases of pink eye are caused by viruses which are not helped by antibiotics. Some severe forms of viral pink eye may spread to the cornea, which can lead to damage of the cornea or vision.

Pink eye can last from 10 days to two weeks, but there are a number of treatment options available, depending on the cause and severity, that can help alleviate your symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms above, call Baptist Eye Surgeons for an evaluation. We usually are able to accommodate patients with same day appointments when the need arises.

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN, dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to treatment of more serious eye diseases. To meet our doctors and learn more about our specialities, visit our website or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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