When you wake up in the morning with itchy, red eyes that seem to itch, burn and sting, all at the same time, it is most likely conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.
Conjunctivitis is an infection of the eye caused by a viris, an allergen or a bacteria, which is not curable, but treatable. Conjunctivitis will go away on its own, but most people who suffer from it go to the doctor to receive drops and other medications to relieve the symptoms. Conjunctivitis is extremely uncomfortable, and can affect one or both of the eyes.
It is also possible to further irritate the eye by rubbing it extensively with the hands. It is contagious, so people with conjunctivitis should wash their hands regularly and avoid physical contact with other people.
As I said before, conjunctivitis can be caused by three possible sources: a virus, a bacteria or an allergen. Although all three forms produce essentially the same results, a doctor will be able to tell you conclusively how you contrated conjunctivitis.
Bacterial conjunctivitis will heal the fastest, especially if the patient receives antibiotics for the infection. Conjunctivitis caused by an allergen can go on for long periods of time, however, unless the patient identifies the substance that has caused the reaction. Viral conjunctivitis will simply run its course, and all the patient can do is try to control the symptoms.
It has also been theorized that conjunctivitis can be caused by such triggers as vitamin deficiency, irritating contact lenses, incorrect eyeglass prescriptions, and UV burns. Even though these might be triggers for conjunctivitis, it is more likely that they are simply irritants.
There are several courses of treatment for conjunctivitis that a patient might choose to take. The most popular is a widely-accepted home remedy for the infection, which involves placing a salt solution on the eyes for fifteen to twenty minutes.
This scares some people, however, and may cause additional irritation. An alternative would be to fill a plastic bowl with salt water and open the infected eye(s) under the water. This should alleviate the symptoms temporarily and allow the eye to begin cleaning itself.
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with an antibiotic ointment or tablet. This should get rid of the infection within a week. Viral conjunctivitis can be treated with soothing eye drops, though it will take considerably longer.
Conjunctivitis caused by an allergen can be treated with routine antihistimines – the same prescription drug that you would take for other allergies and allergic reactions.
Preventing conjunctivitis is not always easy, but identifying the infection quickly is imperative. If you are around someone with conjunctivitis, never touch anything directly after they have touched it. To avoid spreading the infection, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching objects that others will also pick up. Never wash the eye with a wash cloth more than once – always find a clean one. And lastly, follow the directions given by your doctor so that you can clear up the infection as quickly as possible.