Eye flu, or conjunctivitis, have emerged as a frequent concern for the past few days. Cases of pink eye are being reported in higher numbers nationwide as a result of constant rain, flooding, and waterlogging. Most of the cases are reported from schools putting kids at risk of the infection.
Many schools have issued a guideline due to the alarming increase in instances of eye flu. Kids are more likely to get conjunctivitis because they are more physically active than adults and stay in groups in school or parks. Here is everything you should know to safeguard your kids from risk.
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What is Eye Flu or Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye flu that can be caused by bacteria, virus or allergy, the infection that is widespread nowadays is mostly acute viral infection which takes its own course and is self-limiting. Because it causes the eyeball to take on a reddish color, the condition is also called ‘pink eye‘.
What are some symptoms to look out for?
Some of the typical symptoms associated with conjunctivitis are:
- Red eyes
- Stickiness and itching in the eye
- Watery discharge
- Swollen eyelids
- Painful eyes
- Blurry vision in rare cases
- Sensitivity to light
While there is no immediate relief from medicine or eyedrops in case of viral infection, the symptoms take 1-2 weeks to ease.
How does it spread?
Eye infections, commonly referred to as eye flu or conjunctivitis, can spread through various means. Here are some common ways eye infections can spread:
Direct contact: Direct contact occurs when you come into contact with the eye secretions or respiratory droplets of someone who is infected. If they touch their eyes or sneeze/cough without covering their mouth and nose, the virus or bacteria can be present on their hands or in the droplets. If you touch your eyes after touching these contaminated fluids, you can get infected.
Indirect contact: Indirect contact happens when an infected person touches their eyes and then touches surfaces like doorknobs or keyboards. The virus or bacteria can survive on these surfaces for some time. If you touch the contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, you may contract the infection.
Swimming pools and hot tubs: Eye infections can also spread in swimming pools and hot tubs if the water is contaminated and not adequately treated. Rainy weather can create a conducive environment for pathogens to grow and spread in the water.
Airborne transmission: eye infections can spread through air in crowded or poorly ventilated areas. Virus-carrying respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze can come into contact with another person’s eyes and cause illness, especially in humid and damp environments.
Will looking at others’ eyes spread it to me?
No, this is a myth. It doesn’t spread until the virus comes physically in contact with your eyes through touch or water.
How to protect yourself?
There are some general measures that can help prevent the spread of eye infections:
- Good hygiene practices: Keep your hands clean and wash them frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid close contact: Try to avoid close contact with people who have eye infections or cold-like symptoms. Eye infections can be highly contagious.
- Do not share personal items: Avoid sharing items such as towels, pillow cases, eye drops, make-up or cutlery with others, as these items can easily spread the infection.
- Avoid Makeup: Eye makeup, such as mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow, should be avoided while you have conjunctivitis since it can aggravate the condition and be bacterially contaminated
- Clean and disinfect: Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that may come into contact with your eyes, such as eyeglasses, contact lenses and their cases.
- Proper contact lens care: Conjunctivitis requires you to stop wearing contact lenses and switch to glasses until the infection is gone. If you still need to wear contact lenses, follow proper guidelines recommended by your eye care professional.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes: Rubbing your eyes can transfer bacteria or viruses from your hands to your eyes, potentially causing an infection.
- Use Protective Eyewear: When swimming or engaging in activities that may expose your eyes to irritants, wear spectacles or goggles to shield them.
- Use tissues: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when you cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of germs. Place the used tissue in trash.
- Stay home if you are sick: If you have symptoms of an eye infection, keep yourself isolated, avoid going to work, school or public places to prevent spreading the germs.
- Seek medical advice: If you experience symptoms of an eye infection, avoid self-medicating with over-the-counter products and seek medical attention promptly.
Is there any medication for it?
Certain eye infections, such as mild viral conjunctivitis, may naturally improve without specific intervention. In these instances, you can use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops or artificial tears to relieve discomfort and soothe the eyes. However, for severe infections that do not get better or if there are worries about potential complications, it’s important to seek medical help. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication since certain conditions may necessitate specific medications.
What are the At-Home care tips?
If you think you or someone in your family may be sick with it, here are some at-home care tips for conjunctivitis that may help promote comfort and recovery for minor eye issues:
- Warm or Cold compress: To help soothe irritation and to clean the discharge, a cold ice pack compress or warm cloth compress can be soothing. Make a homemade compress by dipping some clean, soft lint-free cloth or a cold pack wrapped in a cloth and apply it to the closed eye for 5-10 minutes. Repeat as necessary all day long.
- Get plenty of rest: Do not put a strain on your eyes and take adequate rest which can help your body’s natural healing processes.
- Honey: Honey has antibacterial properties, which helps in relieving pain and irritation in the eyes. To use honey, mix 2 teaspoons of honey in a glass of water and wash your eyes with this water.
- Rose water: Rose water has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and also cools the eyes, cleaning the eyes. Just put two drops of rose water in each eye and close them for a minute.
- Tulsi: Tulsi can help in removing eye infections giving relief from burning or pain sensations. For using Tulsi for eyes, soak basil leaves in water overnight and next morning, wash your eyes with this water for 3-4 days.
- Potato: Potatoes have a cooling effect and can help in reducing eye irritation. For this, cut the potatoes into thin pieces. Place potato slices over your eyes before sleeping at night. Keep it on for about 10-15 minutes, then remove it.
- Green tea bags: Green tea can help relax your eyes along with reducing puffiness and pain. For this, you can dip green tea bags in lukewarm water and then place them on each eye. Or, you can cool these tea bags in the refrigerator and then use them.
- Turmeric: This spice has several medicinal uses due. Add a pinch of turmeric powder to lukewarm water and mix it. Soak a cotton pad in this water and wipe your eyes with it to clear the dirt present around the eyes and help prevent infection.
- Neem soak: To make this easy neem water, soak the washed neem leaves in water and wash the eyes with this water. Its antibacterial properties help in healing the eyes.
- Saltwater: Very much similar to teardrops it naturally helps clean the eyes. For this, boil half a liter of water and cool it. Then, mix 1 tsp salt in it. Now, take a small cotton swab and dip in this salt water and clean the eyes with this.