Symptoms of pink eye or conjunctivitis are pretty hard to miss because most people with the condition feel discomfort in the affected eye. Treatment for pink eye is important since certain forms of it can be very contagious. Other times, children get symptoms of pink eye but really are harboring ear infections. This may especially occur in babies, toddlers and younger, school age children.
Common signs of conjunctivitis include redness in one or both eyes. Often, when conjunctivitis begins, it starts in one eye only, so it’s not unusual for one eye to look extremely bloodshot while the other doesn’t. However if you’ve ignored redness in one, infection may have spread to the other eye so that both eyes look extremely red and bloodshot.
Another common symptom of pink eye is the eye oozing pus or watery discharge. You might notice this particularly in the morning. Some people wake to find their eyelashes from top and bottom lids stuck together because of this discharge. If you notice this when you wake up, use a little water to soften dried “eye gook” before opening the eyes.
The affected eye can feel itchy, burning, or scratchy and your eye may also hurt when exposed to strong light. It’s not unusual for an infected eye to be painful at all times, or you may be uncomfortable opening or closing the eye. Some people will have colds or congestion too, or simply the nose may feel congested because the eye is. Other people feel like they are having an allergy attack. Unlike allergies, symptoms don’t go away within a few hours to a few days, and won’t get better if you take an antihistamine.
It takes about seven days or slightly more for pink eye of viral origin to go away, and the doctor may prescribe some soothing drops to help promote greater comfort. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria needs to be treated with antibiotic drops or oral antibiotics. Check with your doctor about how to keep others around you safe when you have conjunctivitis. Both viral and bacterial forms of this condition can be highly contagious, easily spreading to your unaffected eye, and to the eyes of other people.
If you notice symptoms of pink eye, see your doctor. From symptoms alone, you usually can’t tell whether the conjunctivitis you have is viral or bacterial. A doctor can better make this determination and offer the best treatment methods and advice.