Pink Eye Symptoms & Treatment Options

Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, is an inflammation or infection that affects the eyes. The most apparent pink eye symptoms include a pink to reddish color in the whites of the eyes, but there’s so much more to know and understand about this eye condition.

man rubbing his eyes

How Do You Get Pink Eye?

Pink eye is highly contagious in certain forms but rarely serious. The common cold, exposure to bacteria, even common irritants like smoke, debris or the wrong eye drops can cause a pink eye infection. There has been a link between pink eye and COVID-19 infections.

There are three main types of pink eye.

Viral conjunctivitis:

Viral pink eye is most often caused by the common cold, flu or a respiratory infection. One or both eyes may be affected, and any discharge you see is more watery than in a bacterial case.

Bacterial conjunctivitis:

Bacterial conjunctivitis is spread by direct contact, namely rubbing your eyes after touching something infected by the bacteria. Pink eye caused by bacteria is most commonly associated with a thicker discharge that can cause the eyelids to get stuck together. One or both eyes may be affected. Certain sexually transmitted diseases can put you at risk for more severe cases of bacterial conjunctivitis. 

Allergic conjunctivitis:

Pink eye can also result from an allergic reaction, in which case it’s likely to affect both eyes. You’ll probably also see additional symptoms related to allergies, such as a runny nose and scratchy throat, on top of pink eye symptoms if you’re dealing with allergic conjunctivitis. Pink eye caused by allergies is similar to an infection caused by common irritants or debris in the eye.

Pink eye symptoms will differ somewhat based on the cause of the infection, but there are things to watch for if you think you may have pink eye.

Pink Eye Symptoms

Apart from the tell-tale reddish-pink color in the whites of the eyes, pink eye symptoms can include the following:

  • Swelling of the eyelids and the conjunctiva, the membrane lining the front of the eye and inner eyelid
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Burning or stinging in the eyes
  • Discharge from the infected eye that can cause a crust to form overnight
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye discomfort, or a feeling that a foreign body is in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Swollen lymph nodes if dealing with a viral form

The severity of your symptoms can affect how you should treat your case of pink eye and how long your infection will last.

Child with pink eye

How Long Does Pink Eye Last?

How long an infection will last depends on the kind of pink eye you’re treating and how severe your infection is. A typical recovery lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Starting treatment as soon as you notice pink eye symptoms will shorten your recovery time.

Pink Eye Treatment Options

Your pink eye treatment in Los Angeles will depend on the kind of infection you’re dealing with. You may be prescribed a course of antibiotics, likely as eye drops, for bacterial pink eye. Take the entire course of treatment to prevent reinfection or spreading the infection to someone else.

Viral conjunctivitis, the most common type of pink eye, is usually treated by making you more comfortable as the infection runs its course. There are no antibiotics that will stop a viral case in its tracks. 

Common treatment options for viral conjunctivitis include warm compresses applied to the eye to relieve eye pain and clear away discharge, artificial tears and practicing even more aggressive hygiene habits to prevent the infection from spreading to the other eye or others. If you wear contact lenses, you’ll need to wear glasses instead until your infection has cleared up. 

Antihistamines and over-the-counter eye drops may help relieve the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. Still, you may have trouble with itchy, watery eyes as long as you’re exposed to whatever caused the allergic reaction.

person using eye drops to treat pink eye symptoms

Preventing the Spread of Pink Eye

If you’re dealing with a contagious form of pink eye that wasn’t caused by something in your eye or seasonal allergies, there are steps you should be taking to prevent it from spreading to someone else. A hallmark of pink eye is that it is highly contagious, especially in children.

If you already have pink eye, follow these steps to prevent the spread of the infection:

  • Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes. If you use a cotton ball or pad to clean out your eye, dispose of it immediately and wash your hands immediately after.
  • Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer when you don’t have easy access to soap and water.
  • Avoid sharing towels or anything that may touch your face with others. Switch out towels, washcloths and pillowcases daily until the infection has cleared.
  • Do not share makeup or any tools that may touch the eye. This includes contact lens cases and solutions. This has already been mentioned, but you should not be wearing contact lenses during an active infection.
Man washing his hands in a sink

When to Seek Help

If you think your newborn has pink eye, it’s best to see a doctor right away, as the infection can be severe in babies and a sign of not only infection but a blocked tear duct. 

See a medical professional sooner rather than later if you have any eye pain, extreme light sensitivity or additional symptoms on top of those we’ve already gone over. That can mean fever, fatigue or a change in vision affecting your day-to-day activities.

Pink eye symptoms won’t always mean pink eye, either. It can be a different kind of eye infection or a bad case of allergies that aren’t quite at the level of allergic conjunctivitis. 

In adults, pink eye usually isn’t serious, but you’ll shorten your recovery time dramatically if you address pink eye symptoms right away. If you’re not sure of the kind of infection you’re dealing with or aren’t sure whether you have pink eye at all, it’s always best to speak with a healthcare professional. 

Reliant offers urgent care virtual appointments if you’re not sure what your next steps should be. We’re here to get you feeling better fast, with quick and easy ways to reach our team of medical professionals both virtually and at several urgent care locations in Los Angeles.

UTI Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that can affect any part of your urinary system. While highly treatable with a course of antibiotics, UTI symptoms can become serious if left untreated.

It’s important then to know how to spot a UTI, understand what causes the infection, when to seek UTI treatment and prevention tips for future UTIs.

What Causes a UTI?

A UTI is caused by bacteria, and to a lesser extent, fungi, entering the urinary tract. The most common UTI is a bladder infection or cystitis, but it can also appear in the urethra as urethritis or spread to the kidneys as pyelonephritis. Kidney infections are the most severe type of UTI and can be more complicated to treat. 

So how do you get a UTI?

Bacteria can enter the urinary tract in several ways. In adult women, who are at a much higher risk of developing a UTI than adult men, an infection often occurs following sexual activity. A woman’s anatomy is to blame for that higher risk. Their urethras are shorter and closer to the anus, a source of UTI-causing bacteria. 

In children, UTIs can be caused by toileting habits and hygiene. Children who have difficulties emptying their bladders during urination or abnormalities in their urinary tract like stones or blockages may also be at higher risk for more frequent infections.

There are many additional risk factors that increase the chances of developing a UTI or that can make treating a UTI more complicated:

  • A previous history of UTIs
  • Holding in urine
  • Dehydration
  • Being sexually active
  • Certain sexually transmitted diseases
  • Birth control methods such as diaphragms or spermicides
  • Pregnancy and hormonal changes, e.g., menopause, perimenopause
  • Medical devices such as catheters
  • Chronic conditions that affect the immune system, like diabetes

Your urinary tract can fight off much of the bacteria it encounters if you have a strong, healthy immune system. When that doesn’t happen, an infection can occur, often with a series of noticeable symptoms.

UTI test

UTI Symptoms

Classic UTI symptoms in the early stages are an urgent need to urinate and a painful, burning sensation during urination. Additional symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Passing small amounts of urine or having difficulty urinating
  • Discolored (pink, red, brown) or cloudy urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • General malaise or fatigue
  • Pain or pressure near the naval in children
  • Pelvic pain or pelvic pressure in women

If a UTI progresses beyond those initial symptoms, you may need to seek more emergent treatment. More severe UTI symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Chills, rigors, shaking
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lower back pain
  • Extreme fatigue

It’s important to note that irritation or discomfort doesn’t always mean you have a UTI. Yeast infections and some sexually transmitted diseases can cause similar symptoms, especially in the early stages of infection. 

Seek medical attention immediately if you’re experiencing any of the more severe symptoms above. Most common cases of UTIs aren’t considered an emergency but should be treated as soon as possible to prevent those more serious symptoms from setting in.

Woman with UTI pain

UTI Treatment

Most urinary tract infections are treatable with a course of antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider. UTIs are one of the most common infections out there. With the appropriate diagnosis and treatment, you shouldn’t suffer any lingering side effects.

How long does a UTI last?

If you’re suffering from a less severe bladder infection, your UTI symptoms may go away within a day or two of starting treatment. A more serious kidney infection may take up to 14 days to resolve with UTI treatment. It truly depends on how complicated your case is, the strength of your immune system, even the strain of bacteria your body is dealing with.

UTI care doesn’t have to happen through your primary care physician, either. If you’re suffering from UTI symptoms, an urgent care center like Reliant can be the efficient and effective answer to treating your UTI symptoms as soon as they start.

UTI medication

How to Prevent UTIs

You know how to get rid of a UTI, but what about prevention? There are ways to give your body a better chance at keeping UTI symptoms at bay.

  • Drink lots of water. Keeping yourself well-hydrated allows your bladder and urinary system to flush out harmful bacteria more effectively.
  • Practice proper hygiene. Wipe front to back after trips to the bathroom, especially after bowel movements, and teach children to do the same. Always empty your bladder completely after urination. That can mean more frequent trips to the bathroom.
  • Take charge of your sexual health. Women should urinate after sexual activity and avoid hygienic products that could prove irritating. Birth control methods that promote bacteria growth may need to be swapped out for other contraceptives. Always practice safe sex, as certain sexually transmitted diseases can increase your risk for UTIs.
  • Boost Vitamin C intake. Unsweetened Cranberry juice is already a common suggestion for UTI prevention and treatment. Vitamin C overall fights bacteria production, making the urine more acidic. 
  • Follow a healthy diet. A diet high in fiber and rich in the vitamins and minerals your body needs will promote robust immune system health. A stronger immune system is more likely to fight off potential infections before they become a problem.
Woman drinking out of a water bottle

When to Seek Help

UTIs can get serious if left untreated. While most cases aren’t an emergency unless symptoms have progressed to a more serious level, you should find care for a UTI as soon as possible if you’re experiencing any UTI symptoms. Most urgent care locations in Los Angeles are well-equipped to handle UTI treatment and care and will have you feeling much better soon.

If you’re worried that what you’re suffering from is UTI symptoms, contact the healthcare team at Reliant. We also offer virtual care appointments if you’re not sure whether you should visit in person.

Child Immunization Schedule: Top Immunizations to Stay Healthy

An essential piece of returning to school is keeping track of an immunization schedule for children. As remote learning comes to an end for many, and as some families have moved during the pandemic, it’s important to know the immunizations required before that first day.

Missing records can mean more missed school, so parents should be prepared with complete vaccination records to avoid delays. Urgent care services and your doctor’s office will all have the necessary vaccination information for the upcoming school year.

Keep in mind that while requirements can vary from state to state, required vaccinations within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) match federal recommendations.

Immunization Schedule for Children Entering TK/K

By far, the bulk of recommended immunizations happen before a child enters school for the first time. Children entering TK/K will need to have the following vaccines as part of their childhood immunization record before the first day of school:

  • Five doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP, DTP, Tdap, or Td)
  • Four doses of Polio (OPV or IPV)
  • Three doses of Hepatitis B
  • Two doses of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Two doses of Varicella (Chickenpox)

These immunizations are also required for any child entering the public school system in Los Angeles from outside of the district. That means any child from K-12 should have these vaccines completed before they come for their first day in LAUSD.

That first round of vaccinations can seem overwhelming to some parents, but they all protect against some severe diseases.

Elementary school child immunization

DTaP, DTP, Tdap and Td

The DTaP vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis, or whooping cough. All three are serious bacterial diseases that can lead to death in the most severe cases. Whooping cough is most serious in infants, although the respiratory tract infection is highly contagious.

Tdap is the booster to DTaP, typically given to adolescents. In LAUSD, the booster is administered before children start 7th grade.

DTP refers to an older version of the DTaP. While DTaP has effectively replaced the DTP vaccine across the United States, children entering the district from elsewhere with a record of DTP shots will be considered covered under the DTaP requirement. Td is a vaccine that protects against tetanus and diphtheria and is typically given to adolescents and adults.

OPV or IPV

IPV is the preferred vaccine against polio in the United States. Students coming from other countries may have received the OPV vaccine. Both would be considered valid on an immunization schedule for children in LAUSD. In LAUSD, three doses of the vaccines are acceptable if one was given on or after a child’s 4th birthday.

Thanks to vaccinations, the United States has been polio-free since 1979. The debilitating disease is still a problem in some parts of the world, making it critical to continue vaccination efforts until it is truly eradicated worldwide.

School children running to class

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B vaccine prevents serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The hepatitis b virus can cause long-term damage to the liver, even liver failure or death in the most severe cases. The best prevention is still the vaccine.

MMR

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The doses should be given at least 28 days apart. In LAUSD, the recommendation is that both are administered on or after a child’s 1st birthday.

This series of vaccines prevent three highly contagious diseases, with measles the most serious and most contagious of the three. The worst cases of measles can cause pneumonia, brain damage and even death. By far, the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella is vaccination.

Chickenpox

The chickenpox vaccine prevents cases of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The highly contagious disease results in itchy, blistering rashes on the skin and can be life-threatening in the very young or those with compromised immune systems.

The vaccine is typically given in two doses, ideally between 12-15 months and between 4-6 years of age. Older children who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine can receive two doses at least 28 days apart with the same effectiveness.

Child with chickenpox

Immunization Schedule for Children Entering 7th Grade

Seventh grade is an additional benchmark for children in the Los Angeles public schools. A student’s child immunization record should include the following for 7th-grade advancement:

  • One dose of Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Two doses of Varicella (Chickenpox)

Again, any students coming into LAUSD from other states, even outside of the country, should be up-to-date on all of their vaccinations before their first day of school.

Where Does COVID-19 Fit In?

Currently, there are no mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for children in the Los Angeles public schools. In response to an uptick in cases and as a way to allow for the safe reopening of schools, the district has mandated weekly COVID testing for students and staff, no matter their vaccination status.

This baseline testing will be done by mobile testing teams at every school site. Parents also have the option of keeping their children at home with a continuation of virtual learning.

Child getting a COVID test at school

Navigating Child Vaccination Requirements

It can be challenging to navigate the vaccinations required for a safe return to school. Your doctor’s office or urgent care in Los Angeles will be able to answer any additional questions you may have. From worries about the return to school to any immunization requirements, healthcare providers can support you in getting your child in the door that first day with a complete medical record.

Contact us at Reliant. We’re here to help in any way we can to take some stress off of the return to school and work through required vaccination schedules with you.

Top 5 Reasons for Summer Urgent Care Visits

 

Summertime means spending more time outdoors and being active, taking advantage of warmer weather and time away from school and work. All that added fun and adventure can mean more opportunities for injuries, illnesses, and unexpected accidents, though.

Here are some of the most common reasons for summer urgent care visits, along with tips on being safer throughout the summer season.

1. Severe Sunburns

If you’re in Southern California, you’re likely already practicing good sun health, applying (and reapplying) your sunscreen when you’re spending time at the beach or pool. Appropriate sun care is that much more important in the summer months. The sun is stronger, and it’s easier to get distracted by outdoor activities and forget how long it has been since you reapplied.

If you find yourself suffering from a bad sunburn, you may need to seek urgent care services, especially if you notice blistering. Severe pain from sunburn is also a sign that you may not be able to relieve your burn on your own, and it’s time to seek sunburn treatment.

To prevent severe sunburns:

  • Wear sunscreen daily, even when it’s overcast.
  • Reapply your sunscreen every few hours, especially after time in the water or after heavy exercise or play.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and a light layer if spending time outside during the sun’s midday peak hours.
  • Seek shade during hot afternoons. If you’re not able to find shade, bring your own. Umbrellas can work on sunny days, too.

A person's shoulder with a bad sunburn and blisters

 

2. Sports Injuries

You don’t have to be an athlete or part of a summer sports league to suffer from summertime sports injuries. With more time spent outdoors, it’s only natural that there’s an increased chance something could go wrong while participating in an athletic activity.

Urgent care centers see increases in people coming in with a sprained or broken bone, fractures, and all kinds of cuts and scrapes from outdoor activities. Water-related injuries are also more commonplace, especially around California’s beach towns.

Children are particularly prone to summertime sports injuries. School is out, outdoor play is in, and they’re simply exposed to more chances for injuries that could require medical care.

To stay as safe as possible when participating in summertime sports:

    • Use safety equipment. Wear helmets, pads, and any other equipment to protect you while you play.
    • Know where help is. It can be as simple as knowing where to access a first aid kit for minor cuts and scrapes or where you can turn to if you or a loved one has an injury while playing outside.
    • If the activity is hiking or spending time in the water, use the buddy system. If something goes wrong, you’ll have someone with you to seek help.

People playing beach volleyball and tennis during the summer

 

3. Heat Stroke & Dehydration

It can be challenging to keep track of your water intake while you’re having a great time out in the sun. That’s what makes it so easy to become dehydrated and suffer the effects of heat exhaustion or the more serious heatstroke.

Left untreated, heatstroke can quickly become life-threatening. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of heatstroke, seek urgent care locations in Los Angeles immediately.

To keep yourself safe from heatstroke and dehydration:

      • Stay well-hydrated when spending time outside in the summer. Bring water with you wherever you go.
      • If exercising or participating in sports in the summer months, take water breaks.
      • Know the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If you’re feeling faint, listen to your body and take a break. Drink some water and find some shade.
      • On sweltering days, try to avoid time outside during peak hours for summertime heat. The sun is typically at its hottest from 10 am-2 pm.

Woman jogging in Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles

 

4. Cooking/Barbecue Burns

Summer season is grilling season, and with that comes the potential for burns from those grills and cooktops. It’s best to practice appropriate precautions around a hot grill, but accidents do happen.

If you or a loved one suffers a burn from a grill, immerse the affected area in cold water to reduce any immediate pain and cool down the site. Gently clean the area, then bandage the burn to prevent infection.

You’ll want to seek additional medical help if the burn starts to blister, is a large burn or near a sensitive area like your face, or involves a senior or a child. If you’re just unsure whether you need to seek immediate assistance, err on the side of caution, go in anyway, or seek out virtual care to talk through your options with a healthcare provider.

To keep yourself safe during grilling season:

      • Use outdoor grills outside. Outdoor grills should never be used indoors, not because of the burn potential but because of the carbon monoxide.
      • Take extra care when lighting the grill or lifting grill lids during cooking.
      • Use grilling tools. Keep your hands safe with oven mitts, and use tongs or spatulas made for outdoor grilling.
      • Turn your grill off completely when you’re done cooking, and allow it to cool before handling it further. Take care of any hot materials appropriately.
      • Keep an eye on children that may accidentally touch a hot grill.

Another potential hazard of grilling is the potential for food poisoning. Food left out too long in the hot sun can harbor any number of bacteria, so it’s crucial that barbecues include proper refrigeration and other common-sense food safety tips to keep everyone safe.
Man grilling

 

5. Exacerbated Allergies

It isn’t only springtime blooms that exacerbate bad allergies. Allergy sufferers know that summer is a hot time for certain pollens and grasses to fill the air. In summers following wet winters, Californians may experience super blooms that last into the summer months.

Insect bites, including bee stings, can also become a cause for concern in people with allergies. Those with known bee sting allergies likely have access to epinephrine, but if you or anyone around you is showing signs of anaphylaxis, seek immediate medical attention or visit urgent care in Los Angeles.

To stay safe from summer allergies:

      • Be prepared with epinephrine, Benadryl, or inhalers as a precaution if you have known allergies.
      • If allergies are related to pollens and blooming flowers, follow available forecasts. Pollen forecasts are common across California, and higher temperatures can make allergies worse.
      • Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any shortness of breath, a severe rash or hives, even worsening allergy symptoms.

Field with pollen

Summertime is the perfect time for enjoying the outdoors. With the right safety precautions, you can enjoy a summer full of making memories that don’t involve visiting urgent care this summer. If you find yourself in a situation where you do need urgent care, even an urgent care virtual visit, don’t delay.

Book online and talk to a healthcare provider so you can return to enjoying your summer as quickly as possible.