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Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): A Common Fall Illness
Summer is officially behind us, and another school year is back in session. When it comes to fall illnesses, conjunctivitis—commonly referred to as “pink eye”—is among the most feared by parents. School-aged children are at a high level of risk of exposure to conjunctivitis, and though severe complications are rare, viral pink eye is incredibly contagious and can cause quite a bit of discomfort if left untreated.
We see a rise in cases of conjunctivitis at ConvenientMD every fall and often receive questions about the illness from our patients. Here’s what you need to know about pink eye, as well as what to do if you or a family member are showing symptoms.
What Is Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)?
Conjunctivitis by definition is an inflammation or irritation of the conjunctiva—the clear tissue which covers the white part of the eye and the interior of the eyelids. Many people refer to conjunctivitis as “pink eye” due largely to the physical appearance of symptoms such as redness of the eyes or yellow discharge. As children are in close contact with others during the school year, they are typically the most susceptible members of the population to contracting pink eye.
There are various forms of conjunctivitis, including allergic, viral and bacterial. While allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, viral (the most common form) and bacterial cases can easily spread from person to person. Those who wear contact lenses are at an increased risk of developing bacterial conjunctivitis, which may require treatment with antibiotics.
What are the Symptoms of Conjunctivitis?
Symptoms of conjunctivitis often depend upon the underlying cause of the inflammation and typically include the following:
- Redness of the eyes (especially the whites of the eyes)
- Increased tears
- Crusty discharge
- Itchy or burning eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Swollen lymph nodes
In severe cases, the following symptoms may occur:
- Blurred vision
- High fever
- Severe pain in eye
These symptoms are signs of a medical emergency. If experienced, seek medical treatment right away so as to prevent complications from forming.
Diagnosing and Treating Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis is usually diagnosed via a physical examination and a conversation about symptoms and recent medical history. Rarely, a sample of discharge from the eye may be taken for laboratory analysis to confirm or deny a bacterial infection. For those suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, antihistamine-containing eye drops may be prescribed.
Since most cases of conjunctivitis are viral, a treating provider will usually provide guidance to help treat and alleviate symptoms while the virus runs its course (typically within 2-3 weeks).
Visit ConvenientMD to Get Treated for Conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis can be severely uncomfortable. At ConvenientMD, we treat cases of conjunctivitis on a regular basis with the goal of helping our patients achieve symptom relief and get back to daily life. All of our clinics in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are open seven days a week from 8am. to 8pm. Just walk in—you never need to make an appointment to be seen.
So don’t let conjunctivitis ruin your fall—visit ConvenientMD to get treated today!