Early Symptoms of Pink Eye: Everything you Need to Know

HomeEyeEarly Symptoms of Pink Eye: Everything you Need to Know

It is late at night, and you can hardly sleep. You are yet to figure out what wrong with your eyes and the next step to take.

Although the early symptoms are evidence that something is wrong, you are unsure of what it is.

It could be the pink eye, but how easily can you tell?

Read on. Here is everything you need to know about early symptoms of pink eye.

What is Pink Eye?

Pink eye or conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of specifically the conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is the thin and clear covering of the white part of the eye in the eyelids.

Eyes become pink or red, watery, irritated, and swollen. To some extent, some will release a considerable amount of mucus. However, with few precautious and early attention, it can be avoided.

Conjunctivitis result from multiple causes, but eye specialists describe the ‘pink eye’ as mainly viral initiated. It is thus very contagious. The term ‘pink eye’ sounds scary, right? Especially if it is the first time you hear about it.

The truth is that it affects anyone, with the majority being: School children, store and office workers, preschoolers, college teachers, and students or childcare attendants.

How widespread is the Pink Eye?

According to the National Eye Institute, there are approximately 3 million cases of the pink eye every year in the United States. This number is based on recorded data from people who have sought medication.

However, acute conjunctivitis continues to record high figures among many people, with the treatment cost going up to $857 million annually. This is evidenced in the study published in the NCBI database.

Although there are three primary types of conjunctivitis that include: infectious, allergic, and chemical conjunctivitis, the focus here is on symptoms of viral conjunctivitis in toddlers and adults.

The symptoms can either come early or show up late but with dire consequences. More details on children and adult symptoms are discussed below.

Early Symptoms of Pink Eye – an Exhaustive List

The symptoms of viral conjunctivitis vary based on the individual affected, and it worsens when you have an underlying eye infection, and this is quite traumatizing. Read on to know the early symptoms of pink eye in toddlers and adults.

Swollen conjunctiva

Swollen conjunctiva is also referred to as chemosis. It is described as the primary symptom of the pink eye. It occurs the moment palpebral conjunctiva inflames after accumulating so much water and swelling.

Once you notice the inflammation, you need to be sure something is wrong.

An allergic reaction or an infection can cause inflammation. In the case of an allergen, it takes short recovery time. A viral infection will take a couple of days to heal if you seek the right remedies.

Some home remedies for pink eye include:

  • Frequent facial wash with cool water
  • Keep your contact lenses away
  • Aloe Vera works magic
  • A cool pack of green tea
  • The use of turmeric

Mild fever and headache

Mild fever and headache is an indication of many infections among them being the pink eye. The fever levels are low, unlike in other conditions, and it drops or goes away in less than two days.

Fever alone without any other noticeable effect on the eye cannot be associated with the pink eye.

The eye and the brain are connected through the optic nerve, and a slight interference through inflammation or eye injury affects the nerves sending a response to the brain. This leads to a mild headache, only when the nerves are interfered with.

Redness or pinkness in the eyes

Whenever you have a viral infection in the eye, due to an allergen or factors discussed earlier, the first indication is the pink or red coloration in the affected areas. This happens because of inflammation as the body tries to fight the infection.

The capillaries, in this case, become conspicuous than before. If you realize that either one or both of the eyes appear to have discoloration, there is a high possibility you have conjunctivitis.

You need to be cautious not to spread the infection to the other eye or those around you. To avoid that, you must know the things that are triggering the infection to have an approach that keeps everyone around you secure.

Prevent the spreading and redness through these steps:

  • Change your bedding often
  • Clean the eyeglasses thoroughly or avoid them
  • Use disinfectants and hot water to wash your towels
  • Avoid sharing cosmetics and personal eye care items
  • Wash your hands on a routine basis and thoroughly
  • Never share washcloths and towels with others

General eye malaise

The moment the red eye attacks you, your eyes don’t feel the same again, until the moment you heal. The eyes feel tired in both the bilateral and unilateral sections. It happens because the infection affects the parts surrounding the eyes, resulting in a feeling of malaise.

Although many things like spending days awake or excessive light make your eyes tired, the case is different with the pink eye.

With the infection, other symptoms explained in this article are evidence, and you can notice them along with the general eye malaise.

Watery eyes

Your body uses various natural mechanisms to eliminate the causative agents. That is why the pink eye, to some individuals, results in excess watering.

To some extent, the water runs out excessively, as tears do. Tearing increases in case of ignorance, when you do not seek therapeutic attention.

If you are tearing, know that there is a potential of infecting the other eye. When wiping, use dry tissue and ensure you do not recycle them. Also, wash your hands to avoid spreading to those around you.

Increased eye sensitivity to light

Sensitivity to light might not always be due to pink eye. Many eye conditions result in this sign, and it helps to have a look at other symptoms in this article. If it is the red eye, sensitivity to light progresses as the infection advances.

At the early stage, the eyes are partially sensitive to light leading to photophobia. It happens because the pink eye results in inflamed conjunctiva, which makes your pupil sensitive to both bright and intense light. Again, seek medical intervention if not sure about what is wrong with you or your kid.

How do you know you have photophobia? Read below.

  • Feeling to close your eyes in the presence of light
  • Forehead pain
  • Squinting one or both eyes often
  • Staring at your phone, laptop, text or pictures become hard
  • Regular light starts to feel excessively bright

Challenge when opening the eyes

Early Symptoms of Pink Eye - challenge opening the eyes

You will find it hard to open the eyes when you have the pink eye. It becomes worse if it affects the newborn. The viral infection blocks the tear duct and accumulates the discharge making it hard for the babies to see. Doctor intervention will solve everything.

Enlarged eyelids

In the beginning, you will notice a difference in your eyelid, especially an increase in size. You might assume and think maybe it’s due to the sleepiness night you had last night. If swelling progresses, then it is evident that something is wrong.

If by any chance, the swelling occurs in both eyes, then it is evident you have a pink eye. The swelling is due to inflamed conjunctiva that directly affects the inner parts of the eyelid. Seek clinical intervention as fast as possible at this stage.

Swollen lymph nodes

Whenever you have an infection, your white blood cells gather to fight against that infection. The same happens when you have a pink eye. The lymph nodes swell at different locations. The most common being the neck, behind your head, armpits, or around your groin.

It is easy to guess you have a pink eye when lymph nodes start showing up. The obvious reason being they are associated with viral infections, and the pink eye is viral.

Swollen lymph glands also result from multiple diseases like strep throat.

Irritating eyes

Itchy eyes are a common trait for the pink eye. It is argued that the level of itchiness varies on an individual level or how you take care of your eyes. If you don’t disturb them much by rubbing, the itching is mild and vice versa. However, exposure to triggering agents makes the situation worse for everyone.

Various triggering agents associated with viral and chemical conjunctivitis include:

  • Air pollutants
  • Chlorine, especially in pools
  • Noxious chemicals

It will be wrong to conclude that just because the eyes are itchy, then it is a pink eye. However, when other symptoms in this list show up alongside highly irritating eyes, be sure that you have conjunctivitis.

Yellow and white discharge

The discharge comes along with excessive water. If you’re keen enough, you will notice that the discharge produced is more than the normal rheum that is produced by healthy eyes and acts as a lubricant. In the case of a pink eye, the color is highly seen, and it is either whitish or yellowish.

In some extreme cases, the discharge exceeds covering the lids. Do not let your eyes to reach such levels. The crusting effect keeps the eye bulky and increases the itchy effect.

Other than the excess discharge, seek intervention from an ophthalmologist if you notice:

  • Spreading signs that complicate to other infections
  • Symptoms that last for more than a week, and are becoming worse
  • Trouble seeing and sleeping

A Scratchy feeling

Other than the itchy feeling, the scratchy sensation makes you feel quite uncomfortable. It feels like someone with a rough effect is being scratched on your eye intentionally.

The feeling arises when the inflamed conjunctiva rubs the eyelid. Just like the itchy feeling, the scratchy sensation can either be mild or extreme.

If this symptom is associated with the pink eye and not normal dust, the feeling is likely to become more intense and even severe when no medical attention is given. People have damaged their eyes due to ignorance.

Interfered vision

The human body responds differently to varying stimuli. This symptom will show among some people, especially those that are immunosuppressed or have another underlying condition. It happens during the day or night. In most instances, the vision is disrupted when waking up due to tears that block the eye.

Note that other conditions like cataracts cause blurry vision like cataracts. If you feel it is not the pink eye, visit a doctor for clarification.

However, if the symptom complements with those listed in this list, know there is a high possibility of a pink eye.

A burning effect

Other than a scratchy feeling and redness, a burning sensation is also common. In the early stages, the sensation is not extreme, and you will feel the effect from a distance. However, if the infection is intense, you will feel like your eyes are on fire.

At such moments, it is when you are tempted to use any available pain relief. To distinguish between the burning effect from dust and other allergens, you will notice that if it is dust, you heal in a few hours without medication.

Conjunctivitis requires medication, and it might take several days to heal fully.

Some physical illness

When your body immunity is compromised, it becomes opportune to many infections. Among them are the upper respiratory infection and the common cold. These conditions result in some physical illness, and you do not want that.

With viral conjunctivitis, the symptoms discussed above result in body weakness. Symptoms like a scratchy throat, coughing, and sneezing come along with a URTI (Upper Respiratory Tract Infection).

Due to the contagious nature of the pink eye, ensure you seek medical attention. Failure to do so exposes those around you.

Other than the URTI, other diseases that show a close relationship with the Pink Eye include:

  • Sexual Transmitted Diseases like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Herpes
  • Psoriatic disease – it occurs around the eyes.
  • Tonsils
  • Measles
  • Common cold
  • Other respiratory diseases

Running nose

Running nose, in most instances, occurs when you have a common cold. It is caused by adenovirus, a virus that has a close association with the pink eye.

When you have an uncontrolled running nose, and contact your eyes with hands or towels that previously had the adenovirus, there is a high possibility of getting the infection.

You might not know you have the pink eye unless other symptoms start showing up. That is why running nose alone is not an indication of the infection. Wash your hands well and clean your towels often to reduce the chances of infection getting into the eyes.

If you are not keen enough after recovering from the pink eye, you might find yourself getting the infection again. The following will help you avoid reinfection:

  • Clean your contact lenses extensively
  • Dispose of all the makeup you used when infected
  • Dispose of the disposable lenses and wash solutions you used before

Symptoms that show a Person is Highly Contagious

Now that you have known the general symptoms of the red eye, some signs show that a person is in a risky and highly contagious state. You have to take action immediately through medical intervention, or else everybody in your home will contact the infection. Below are signs that show someone is highly contagious.

  • Heavy discharges from the eyes
  • Magnificent eyelid swelling
  • Extreme burning sensation
  • Red or pink coloration in the entire eye
  • Extreme irritation

Still Doubting, Visit a Doctor

Pink eye will, in most cases, clear on its own, and home remedies (explained earlier in this list) will solve the problem.

However, if you are not convinced that you have the infection or it is taking longer to heal, the only alternative is to visit a doctor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends doctors intervention if you are in the following state:

  • Symptoms are highly evident
  • The pain is extreme
  • The immunity is compromised due to a known disease like cancer and HIV
  • You have an existing eye condition (check the conditions that easily links with pink eye in this article)

The doctor observes the symptoms described above to know the cause and medication that suits you. Most bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotics, unlike viral conjunctivitis, where no exact treatment exists. Instead, doctors use antihistamines or steroids to arrest the symptoms.

The Bottom Line

Pink eye can be due to an allergy, bacteria, or a virus. Knowing the difference is not easy, and that’s why the medical history and symptoms expounded in this article helps a lot.

Though it comes with painful extremities, it shouldn’t be a major concern. It helps to stay away from others until the infection clears. Specialized treatment is only necessary in extreme cases, or when the infection takes longer to clear.

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