In my experience as a pediatrician, conjunctivitis is a fairly common pathology in children, especially when there are flu, catarrhal or other pathologies, but it is important to determine its cause, since the treatment differs according to its cause. Today in this article we are going to focus on the Bacterial conjunctivitis in children.
Despite the sight being the last sense that develops in the fetus (from the eighth week on), it is one of the five most important senses in the human when receiving any information, and not only for the images that it captures but also for all the sensations that accompany those snapshots. This fact means that, if for any reason the sense of sight is altered, we could have serious learning and behavior problems.
The eye has a very important part called the conjunctiva, which is a thin, almost transparent membrane that covers the front of the eye and the inner layer of the eyelids. The conjunctiva has several functions, among which we have:
- Protects the eye from external agents, such as dust, pollen, smoke, airborne particles, metal or wood chips, which can cause trauma or allergic processes, and also from microorganisms, which can cause infectious diseases, including contagious ones.
- Keeps the front part of the eye, moist and lubricated.
- Keeps the inner layer of the eyelid lubricated and hydrated, so that it can open and close without causing friction or irritation to the eye.
- Nourishes the eye and eyelid through its small blood vessels.
- Prevents the so-called dry eye syndrome, since its cells secrete a component to the tear film.
The conjunctiva can be affected by various pathologies and one of the most frequent is conjunctivitis, called red or pink eye (so called because of the inflammation of its blood vessels, which gives the eye that color). Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva produced by several causes: infectious (bacteria, viruses and chlamydia), allergies, irritations and keratoconjunctivitis.
The bacterial conjunctivitis It is the inflammation of the conjunctiva produced by bacteria, many times coming from other infections in other parts of the body, such as the ears, sinuses, throat or respiratory tract. It usually presents acutely, can affect one or both eyes, and is less common than viral conjunctivitis.
When the parents take the child to me for consultation, I can see that the upper and lower eyelids are usually swollen (swollen), to the point of almost closing the eye and when examining it, the conjunctiva is quite red and very irritable, with yellowish exudate (legaña) and when questioned, he reported feeling pain in the eye, a sensation of grit or a foreign body and sensitivity to light (photophobia).
The presence of fever is rare, unless it is due to some complication of the same pathology or other diseases that could cause conjunctivitis. It is a fairly contagious infection, although less than the viral one, being able to infect other children or adults when symptoms appear and even 24 hours after starting treatment and while the purulent discharge is maintained.
Too children can be infected when they touch an object touched by another child who also has conjunctivitis, or through coughing or sneezing. Many times the infection begins in only one eye, but soon after, it spreads to the other eye with its own hands or with the cloth or paper that cleans the discharge from the diseased eye.
In the summer it is one of the frequent diseases, when children are infected in swimming pool water. Newborns, meanwhile, can also suffer from conjunctivitis by contagion during childbirth, through the vaginal canal, if the mother has a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
When I make the diagnosis of bacterial conjunctivitis, especially due to the presence of purulent discharge, which can be cultured and antibiogrammed, I indicate antibiotics in drops or ointments and anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication if there is edema of the eye and pain. Later, I refer to the ophthalmologist for his assessment and discard of other eye pathologies.
And in the case of newborns who are born by childbirth or cesarean section, antibiotic drops are administered preventively, placing two drops in each eye. Here are some recommendations:
- Avoid passing your hands over the eyes, so as not to contaminate the other eye, if it is not yet contaminated.
- Do not use towels that you share with other children or adults.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Try not to contaminate the objects around it: tables, chairs, toys, pencil, notebooks, etc., since if another child or adult touches it, it is very likely that it will become infected.
- Avoid swimming in pools with dirty or poorly treated water.
- Wear dark glasses if sunlight or artificial light is not tolerable.
- If you wear contact lenses, do not wear during active infection and throw away the lenses if they have been contaminated.
- When cleaning the eye, do it preferably with a gauze soaked only in filtered or fresh water previously boiled and throw away the gauze when finished.
- Avoid compresses or clean the eye with chamomile water, since bacteria reproduce more easily in this sweet environment.
- Change the bedding, at least the first 3 days of treatment.
- Do not self-medicate.
- Consult with your pediatrician as soon as possible and if on the third day of treatment there is no improvement, consult again.
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