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How Do You Know What Type of Conjunctivitis is Causing Inflammation?

When you wake up with irritation and redness around the eyes, you may be suffering from conjunctivitis. While conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, there are variations of this condition. Your irritation may be caused by allergies or a bacterial or viral infection.

Before you can treat the issue, you need to determine which type of conjunctivitis you are suffering from.

What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is a common condition which simply means that the outer membrane (conjunctiva) that covers your eyeballs and the insides of your lids is inflamed. While conjunctivitis rarely causes permanent vision problems, the risk of damage to your vision increases if you do not properly treat the issue.

Pink eye is the common name given to this condition. However, doctors often associate this term with bacterial and viral conjunctivitis. Depending on the type of conjunctivitis, you may be prescribed antibiotics or eyedrops.

In most cases, conjunctivitis clears up within a few days. However, it is possible to spread certain types of conjunctivitis to others. In fact, the spread of viral conjunctivitis is often the cause of pink eye for young children.

What Causes Conjunctivitis?

How do you get pink eye? The most common causes include an allergic reaction, irritants, bacteria, and viruses. It can also result from an STD. For example, chlamydia can cause bacterial conjunctivitis, which can be passed to a newborn baby during birth.

Viruses, like the common cold or flu, are the most common culprit behind cases of conjunctivitis, especially among children. Viral conjunctivitis is also the most contagious form of pink eye.

Conjunctivitis can also start as a bacterial infection. You may get bacteria or an irritant in your eye that causes the inflammation.

Inflammation of the conjunctiva can also be caused by allergic reactions. People that suffer from allergies to pet dander, dust, and pollen may notice inflammation when exposed to these substances.

How Do You Determine the Type of Conjunctivitis?

No matter the cause of the inflammation, you will likely experience similar symptoms. Whether it is caused by an allergic reaction or a virus, conjunctivitis commonly causes redness and irritation on the surface of the eyes and the inner part of the eyelids. However, there are additional symptoms that can help point to the cause of the problem.

You may also notice a yellow discharge over your eyelashes. During the night, this discharge may harden and form a crust, making it difficult to open your eyes.

If you experience these symptoms, along with a runny nose and sneezing, an allergic reaction is likely causing the inflammation.

Cases of bacterial or viral conjunctivitis often start in one eye and may spread to the other eye if left untreated. However, allergic conjunctivitis typically occurs in both eyes.

How Do You Treat Conjunctivitis?

If you suspect that you are suffering from inflammation, your best option is to seek professional treatment. Your doctor will likely prescribe or recommend eye drops. If the inflammation is caused by bacteria, an antibiotic may be used.

While pink eye rarely threatens permanent vision damage, fast treatment can help prevent the spread of viral conjunctivitis and clear up the inflammation.