Tip of the Week: Get the scoop on conjunctivitis
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eye lids. It can be caused by infections (bacteria and viruses), allergies, or substances that irritate the eye. Some kinds of pink eye go away on their own and do not require treatment. Different types of pink eye can have different symptoms. Redness, irritation and watering of the eyes are symptoms common to all forms of conjunctivitis. Sometimes there will be itchiness and discharge. Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with an infection of the upper respiratory tract, a common cold, or a sore throat. Symptoms include watery discharge and variable itch. The infection usually begins with one eye, but may spread easily to the other. Self treatment: A viral eye infection will run its course in a few days to a couple weeks, and it is best to be patient. Symptomatic relief may be achieved with cool compresses and artificial tears. Bacterial Conjunctivitis is most often caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus from the patient's own skin or respiratory flora. Others are due to infections from the environment (e.g., insect borne), from other people and occasionally via eye makeup or facial lotions. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually causes marked grittiness/irritation and a stringy, opaque, gray or yellowish discharge. However, discharge is not essential to the diagnosis. Bacterial Conjunctivitis is often treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments. To help prevent both viral and bacterial infections: wash your hands often with warm water and soap. Don't share eye drops, eye makeup, washcloths, towels or pillow-cases with other people. Note: washing the eye gently with a boric acid eye wash solution (follow directions on label) will help remove some of the bacteria, but you should still see a doctor. Eye drops (Murine, Visine, etc.) may soothe the minor conjunctivitis but won't cure it and should not be used for more than three to four days. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs more frequently among those with allergic conditions, with symptoms having a seasonal correlation. It can also be caused by allergies to substances such as cosmetics, perfume, protein deposits on contact lenses, or drugs. It usually affects both eyes and is accompanied by swollen eyelids. It is typically itchy, sometimes distressingly so. Self treatment: Avoid exposure to the allergen whenever possible. Oral and topical antihistamines, either over-the-counter or by prescription, may help. Irritant, toxic, thermal and chemical conjunctivitis are associated with exposure to the specific agents, such as flame burns, irritant plant saps, irritant gases (e.g., chlorine or hydrochloric acid fumes), natural toxins or splash injury from a variety of industrial or laboratory chemicals. Eyes may feel irritable or painful. If you wear contact lenses, you will need to stop wearing them until your eyes are healed. The combination of contacts and conjunctivitis may damage your cornea (the clear outer layer on the front of your eye) and cause severe vision problems.Question: I drink moderately and when I do, I like to smoke just a cigarette or two. I've been doing this for awhile and haven't had a problem with addiction or anything, but how bad is it for you to smoke one or two cigarettes per month? Most of the statistics you see are for people who have smoked a pack a day for years. How damaging is limited smoking? Does it have as lasting effects?
Answer: Those are all good questions! Nicotine is the most addictive substance known to man. The concern for people who "only" smoke when they drink is that there is a possibility of addiction (starting to smoke regularly). Any smoking, according to experts who examine risk, increases the risk of heart disease later in life. It is now known that exposure to passive cigarette smoke regularly increases the risk of lung disease, and perhaps heart disease. Cancer risks are less clear. We'll have more information to come in the near future about the risks of any cigarette smoke exposure, but in the meantime, you might want to visit the Hot Topics section of our Web site at go.geneseo.edu/hottopics.
Conjunctivitis:Give health services a call if...