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Is it safe to go out while suffering from pink eye?

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Posted on Fri, 20 May 2016
Question: if i have pink eye, should i be going to work
i have been coughing, for going on two weeks now, barely sleeping, and working 12 hour days
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (54 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Some information on pink eye:

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

I'm sorry you have been so sick.

About the coughing illness - I'm sure you know that the 12 hour days are interfering with your immune system getting over this, but my guess is that you are working this much because you don't really have much choice about it. If you are barely sleeping because of coughing at night though, you may benefit from a prescription cough medicine that has codeine in it. Codeine is a strong cough suppressant.

If you are coughing up purulent mucus and have fever/chills, your infection may have turned bacterial and you could benefit from an antibiotic. If not, it may still be a viral infection and is taking longer to resolve because of the stress on your body.

About the pink eye: Most are caused by viruses and certain viruses that cause respiratory infections can also cause pink eye. Antibiotic drops or ointment won't help the pink eye in that case, but whether it is bacterial or viral, hot wet compresses can treat pink eye, particularly if start doing this early. I have treated my own pink eye and that of my daughter's this way. Stand over the sink with a wash cloth and wet it so that it is hot (not so hot it will burn your skin) and put it on your closed eye lids and repeat for several minutes, at least 3 times/day, such as before work, when you go to the bathroom at work you can do this with paper towels, and then in the evening. The more often the better. You should see noticeable clearing in 2 days.

Pink eye that is caused by a virus may not be anymore contagious than the respiratory infection that caused it, providing you wash your hands or use alcohol gel anytime after you touch your eyes or nose. That said, many places still have strict policies about not having workers come to work until their pink eye clears or they are on an antibiotic or antibiotic eye medicine for a full 24 hrs. And your coworkers may balk at seeing your red eyes.

If your respiratory infection is showing signs of bacterial infection, or if your eyes are producing lots of thick yellow discharge, then an eye antibiotic would be a good idea, and after being on it 24 hrs, you can return to work.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3138 Questions

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Is it safe to go out while suffering from pink eye?

Brief Answer: Some information on pink eye: Detailed Answer: Hello and welcome, I'm sorry you have been so sick. About the coughing illness - I'm sure you know that the 12 hour days are interfering with your immune system getting over this, but my guess is that you are working this much because you don't really have much choice about it. If you are barely sleeping because of coughing at night though, you may benefit from a prescription cough medicine that has codeine in it. Codeine is a strong cough suppressant. If you are coughing up purulent mucus and have fever/chills, your infection may have turned bacterial and you could benefit from an antibiotic. If not, it may still be a viral infection and is taking longer to resolve because of the stress on your body. About the pink eye: Most are caused by viruses and certain viruses that cause respiratory infections can also cause pink eye. Antibiotic drops or ointment won't help the pink eye in that case, but whether it is bacterial or viral, hot wet compresses can treat pink eye, particularly if start doing this early. I have treated my own pink eye and that of my daughter's this way. Stand over the sink with a wash cloth and wet it so that it is hot (not so hot it will burn your skin) and put it on your closed eye lids and repeat for several minutes, at least 3 times/day, such as before work, when you go to the bathroom at work you can do this with paper towels, and then in the evening. The more often the better. You should see noticeable clearing in 2 days. Pink eye that is caused by a virus may not be anymore contagious than the respiratory infection that caused it, providing you wash your hands or use alcohol gel anytime after you touch your eyes or nose. That said, many places still have strict policies about not having workers come to work until their pink eye clears or they are on an antibiotic or antibiotic eye medicine for a full 24 hrs. And your coworkers may balk at seeing your red eyes. If your respiratory infection is showing signs of bacterial infection, or if your eyes are producing lots of thick yellow discharge, then an eye antibiotic would be a good idea, and after being on it 24 hrs, you can return to work. I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.