www.whyville.net Oct 31, 2003 Weekly Issue

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Pink Is My Favorite Color

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I am a walking disease trap. No, I'm serious. OK, I'm not as serious as I could be... but hey, I feel like I am! For about 1.5 weeks I've been having an on-again-off-again battle with the dreaded "pink eye."

Yes, pink eye. Just the utterance of this phrase can cause even the most stout-hearted of teenage socialites to quail. It can cause even the most mature of children to rejoice. It can cause even the most uncaring of adults to groan. So what exactly is pink eye?

My doctor explained to me that the correct term for "Pink Eye" is conjunctivitis. Well, if that alone isn't enough to spark the interest of a science nerd like myself, I don't know what is! So, I decided to do a little research while I'm once again stuck at home.

The conjunctiva is the thin, clear, membrane, which covers the white portion of the eye; and in addition, lines the eyelids. Now, for those of you that don't automatically know because you were never forced to learn the Greek roots, -itis means "inflammation." So tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils; appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix; and therefore, conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva.

The most common symptoms of pink eye are, of course, a red or pinkish tent to the normally white sections of your eye(s). Also, there is normally some itching and discharge -- there are, however, many more symptoms, so you should see your doctor if you suspect you have pink eye. Both eyes do not necessarily have to be infected. In fact, you may get it in only one eye. But be careful, as it may commute to the other eye!

According to my research, there are three types of conjunctivitis with a few subtypes:

* Infectious (Viral, Bacterial)
* Allergic
* Chemical (Giant papillary, among others)
* Infectious conjunctivitis is just what it sounds like: an inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by an infectious virus or bacteria. Viral and bacterial infectious conjunctivitis have differing symptoms and treatments, so seek help from your licensed healthcare provider.
* Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by allergens such as pollen, dust, cosmetics, animals, fabrics, et cetera.
* Chemical conjunctivitis is caused by irritants such as pollution, fumes, chemicals, and more. Giant papillary conjunctivitis is usually caused by contact lenses. The description of GPC is much rougher than the descriptions of the others, which are normally just your basic pink eye scenarios.

You will need to see your doctor on the issue how long you should stay out of school or work. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands whenever you touch your face. Don't share things while you have this disease. And do not use the same eye drops provided for another case of pink eye!!! Different forms of conjunctivitis require different medications. Some forms cannot be helped through medication. So always, always, see your doctor first!

For more complete information, check out these articles at:


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