Ocular affectation in flu and cold


During the winter months, with the onset of cold and changes in temperature, the incidence of influenza and colds is triggered.

When we have a cold, white blood cells that fight infection produce substances that inflame the nasal mucosa and dilate blood vessels in the area, resulting in nasal congestion and rhinorrhea (runny nose). This same process is going to take place in the tear duct, which brings tears from the eye to the nose, causing the duct to clog and tears build up in the eye. That is why when we are sick with flu and cold, the eyes are watery and show tearing, secretions and a feeling of discomfort.

In some cases, the same virus responsible for the cold can lead to the onset of conjunctivitis, which consists of inflammation of the conjunctiva, ie the transparent membrane that covers part of the eyeball and the inner portion of the eyelids. Among its main symptoms, there is the ocular redness, itching and sensation of foreign body, swelling of the eyelids, tearing and whitish secretions.

As in the case of cold and flu, there is no specific treatment to curb the virus, but there are a number of recommendations that can help control symptoms, prevent infection and prevent complications.

  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes.
  • Avoid sharing objects that have been in contact with the infected eye (towels, sheets, pillows...).
  • Ventilate the room and office and avoid smoke.
  • Cleanse the secretions of the eye 2-3 times daily with saline solution.
  • Lubricate the eyes with artificial tears in case of itching and foreign body sensation.
  • Do not wear contact lenses or makeup.

In most cases, viral conjunctivitis has a benign course, but in case of worsening symptoms or impairment of vision, we recommend that you consult your ophthalmologist to assess the most appropriate treatment.