Having a cough, sore throat, and pink eye all at the same time? What luck. It’s common to think that an upper respiratory infection isn’t related to pink eye, but in truth, they’re more related than you think.
Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, affects around three million Americans each year. It’s a very common and highly contagious eye condition that can easily spread. And, to the surprise of many, pink eye can also result in an upper respiratory infection.
At Benjamin Optical, our providers perform a comprehensive exam to diagnose and treat pink eye. Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between pink eye and upper respiratory infection, as well as how we diagnose and treat it.
The link between pink eye and upper respiratory symptoms
Conjunctivitis can be allergic, viral, or bacterial. Viral conjunctivitis usually occurs from adenoviruses. This type of virus can infect your eyes, urinary tract, and your lungs, and airways.
Adenoviruses are a common cause of colds and respiratory infections too.
Your body’s mucous membrane connects your lungs, nose, throat, tear ducts, and conjunctiva, a thin membrane lining your eye and eyelid. This creates an easy passageway for the virus to spread from your eye to your respiratory system.
Tears drain from your eye to your nasal passageway. So, if you blow your nose too hard, the virus can run through your nasal passages to your eyes, resulting in pink eye.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can also result in an upper respiratory infection. This form of pink eye is caused by staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria. It can transfer from your skin or respiratory system to your eyes.
While pink eye doesn’t always cause a cold or respiratory infection, it’s not unusual to experience some respiratory symptoms, like coughing or a sore throat.
Pink eye symptoms and treatment
While pink eye symptoms vary, depending on the cause, the most common symptoms include:
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Crusty or sticky eyelids (worst in the morning)
- Red or pink color in the white of your eye
- Irritation or burning
- The feeling of something in your eye
- Discharge from your eye
Viral conjunctivitis is more likely to cause respiratory symptoms, while bacterial conjunctivitis is more likely to cause some type of discharge.
Treating pink eye depends on the severity of the infection and the cause. Viral conjunctivitis can clear up on its own within 7-14 days. If it’s a severe case, your Benjamin Optical provider may recommend antiviral medication.
If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, we can prescribe antibiotic eye drops. These drops can shorten the infection, relieve symptoms, and help prevent it from spreading to others.
At Benjamin Optical, our skilled providers can determine what caused your pink eye and set up an effective treatment plan.
To learn more about pink eye and treatment options, schedule an appointment at Benjamin Optical, located in Harlem, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Inwood, New York, by phone or use our online booking tool.