Conjunctivitis – Remedies for the Treatment of Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis – Information and Remedies for the Treatment of Conjunctivitis

If it feels like someone threw sand in your eyes, but you haven’t been anywhere near a beach or sandbox lately, you may have conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membranes that line the inner surface of the eyelids and the front of the eyeball.”Conjunctivitis usually involves both eyes and doesn’t affect vision,” says Jon H. Bosland, M.D., a general ophthalmologist in private practice in Bellevue, Washington. “Symptoms can include routine burning or itching, extreme sensitivity to light, and tearing. The eyes get red and the lids and surface of the eye can become swollen,” he continues. There may also be a watery, mucus secretion or, in the case of bacterial infection, a thick discharge coming from the eyes. The discharge may be so thick that you wake up in the morning with a crust over your eyes and the feeling that your eyes are “glued” shut.

The causes of conjunctivitis are as numerous as the types. Infectious types of conjunctivitis, which are highly contagious, can be caused by viruses or by bacteria, such as pneumococcus, streptococcus, and staphylococcus. “The eyes are continually bombarded with germs all of the time. But the blink reflex and the tearing reflex are amazingly effective at fighting off most of these germs,” explains Bosland. “And if a particularly aggressive set of germs attacks the eye, the backup defense mechanisms come into play. The blood vessels dilate to bring more bacteria-killing white blood cells to the area, and the eye begins discharging the infection,” he continues. These defensive maneuvers by the body result in the symptoms of conjunctivitis.

Noninfectious types of conjunctivitis tend to be caused by foreign bodies getting under the lid, exposure to ultraviolet light, and allergies. Wind, smoke, and other types of air pollution, as well as the chlorine in swimming pools, can irritate the conjunctiva. The chronic condition of “dry eye” can also cause conjunctivitis, according to Bosland.

“Allergic conjunctivitis is most often associated with itching and swelling of the white part of the eye, which can sometimes be so severe that the white part of the eye looks like a balloon sticking out between the lids,” says Charles Boylan, M.D.,i pediatric ophthalmologist at A Children’s Eye Clinic of Seattle. “Young children often get this when they play out in the grass and weeds in the summertime and get pollen on their hands and then into their eyes. In this instance, the eye can swell up in a matter of minutes,” says Boylan.

Whatever the cause, conjunctivitis can be painful and irritating. As with most symptoms or conditions involving the eyes, it is important to see doctor for correct diagnosis and treatment. Although a viral or bacterial conjunctivitis will usually go away on its own, it will go away much quicker with the use of proper antibiotics and antiviral agents, says Carol Ziel, M.D., an ophthalmologist with the Eye Clinic of Wausauin Wisconsin. Bosland adds that if an infectious conjunctivitis lasts longer than two or three weeks it can start to turn into chronic conjunctivitis. “In this instance, the bacteria get into the outer corners of the eyelid and spill over into the eye, infecting it as well. And these mixed infections involving the eyelid and the eye can go on for quite a long time,” he cautions. In addition to seeing a . doctor and following his or her advice, you can take some simple steps at home to help relieve discomfort and, if you have infectious conjunctivi tis, to keep from spreading the infection around.

Cool the itch of allergic conjunctivitis. “If there is any itching in relation to the conjunctivitis, cool compresses will really help to reduce it,” says Ziel. Simply wet a washcloth with cool water and hold’ against the eyes.

Ice the swelling. Applying an ice pack to the eyes . help bring down any swelling from allergic conjunctivitis. “Try to keep the ice on long enough to reduce the swelling to the point where the eyelid close down over the cornea,” says Boylan. Cornea is the transparent circular covering in (the eyeball that helps to focus light entering the eye.) “Otherwise, the cornea could dry out, which is another problem in itself,” he adds. “You rarely see this type of conjunctivitis not improve with ice packs and a little bit of time. often, by the next morning, the swelling is almost completely gone.”

Apply heat to fight a bacterial infection. “Hot Compresses can help the infection quite a bit because the heat dilates the blood vessels, bringing blood to the area, and raises the temperature above what is optimum for the germ to sur vive,” explains Hosland. “The heat also relaxes muscles around the eye, which can be quite thing,” he continues. Applying a washcloth in hot water (provided it is not hot enough to burn the skin) or using a hot-water bottle works well.

Drop in some relief. For minor allergic conjunctivi­tis over-the-counter eye drops may provide soothing rehef. “Any of these eye drops are fine to provided there is nothing seriously wrong with eye and provided you use them on a short-term basis only,” says Boylan. For safety’s sake, and especially if you are also using prescription eye medication, ask your doctor if it’s OK to use over ­the counter eye drops.

Be selfish. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria or viruses is very contagious, so you’ll need to keep from sharing towels, washcloths, pillows, and handkerchiefs with others. “The fluid draining from the eyes could get on the towel or pillow and infect someone else,” warns Ziel.

Keep your hands off. “Because conjunctivitis can be quite contagious, it’s good to keep the germs off of your hands,” says Ziel. If you have infectious conjunctivitis, try not to rub your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands after wiping your eyes or applying eye medication.

Shield your eyes. Conjunctivitis can make your eyes extremely sensitive to light and other irritants. So do all you can to give them a break. If you’re going outdoors, put on a pair of sunglasses to help shield your eyes from wind and sunlight. Put off mowing the lawn or working in the garden until your conjunctivitis has cleared, or at least wear a pair of goggles to keep pollen and dust out of your eyes. Take time off from swimming, or wear a pair of well-fitting swimming goggles. And, when possible, close your eyes to give them a rest.

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Gingivitis – Curing Gingivitis

Gingivitis – Treatment Options Available for Treating the Disease

You’re brushing your teeth, and when you rinse and spit, you see a little blood. No big deal, you think to yourself. It happens all the time. Well, it’s time to think again-and get to a dentist­because that bit of blood may be a much bigger deal than you think. It may be a sign of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), gum disease-not dental caries, or “cavities” -is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.

Gingivitis is inflammation, swelling, and bleeding of the gum tissue caused by the bacteria that naturally coat everyone’s teeth. The bacteria form a sticky, whitish film on the teeth called plaque. If plaque isn’t thoroughly removed every day, the bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gums and make them red, swollen, and likely to bleed easily. Eventually, the toxins destroy gum tissue, causing it to separate from the tooth and form pockets. The pockets hold more bacteria and detach even further. This is periodontitis, an irreversible stage of gum disease that can destroy the bone and soft tissue that support the teeth.

If you have gingivitis, you’re not alone. According to the ADA and the American Academy of Periodontology, three out of four adults have gingivitis. Most gingivitis results from poor oral hygiene-not brushing and flossing correctly or often enough and not having teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Ronald Wismer, D.M.D., a dentist in private practice in Beaverton, Oregon, who routinely sees gingivitis among his patients, says other factors may increase the risk of developing gingivitis. “Stress is a big factor in gingivitis,” he says. “Hormonal imbalances like pregnancy, menstruation, and the changing hormones of adolescence can increase gingivitis. Some diseases like diabetes and drugs like Dilantin [phenytoin] can cause a gingivitis flare-up. Even habitually breathing through the mouth, which tends to dry out the gums and cause an overgrowth of gum tissue, can increase your risk of developing gingivitis.”

For most of us, it’s lack of good oral hygiene that’s the problem. Good oral hygiene is also a major part of the solution. “The clinical definition of gingivitis is that it involves only the gums, explains Sandra Hazard, D.M.D., managing dentist for Willamette Dental Group, Inc., in Oregon, “so it’s entirely reversible. If you can get things cleaned up, the damage can be taken care of.”

If you suspect that you have gingivitis, you need to see a dentist, because only a dentist can diagnose gum disease. If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis, the following tips, used in addition to your dentist’s advice and treatments, can help you improve your oral-hygiene habits and keep gum disease from stealing your smile.

Use the “three-three” rule. Whenever possible, brush your teeth three times a day for at least three minutes each time. The ADA says that most people spend less than one minute per day on dental hygiene. Ken Waddell, D.M.D., a dentist in private practice in Tigard, Oregon, understands why people don’t brush and floss more. “Undoubtedly, brushing and flossing are the two most boring activities on earth, so we don’t devote enough time to them,” he says. “But to do it right, you’ve got to brush for at least three minutes each time.” (For more information on proper brushing technique, see TARTAR AND PLAQUE.)

Try brushing dry. Waddell says you can take some of the boredom out of dental hygiene by “dry” brushing-or brushing without toothpaste-while doing other activities such as watching television.

Be consistent. “Find a routine and stick with it,” suggests Waddell. “Start at one spot in the mouth each time and work around the mouth the same way each time. It’ll help you be consistent and prevent missing tooth surfaces.”

Lighten up. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they brush is pushing too hard with the toothbrush, says Waddell. Try the following experiment. Apply the bristles of your toothbrush to the back of your hand. Push as hard as you normally would for toothbrushing, and try to move the brush around. Then apply only a tiny amount of pressure and move the brush. You’ll find that the hard pressure doesn’t allow the tips of the bristles-the part of the brush that cleans the teeth- to move.

In addition, Waddell says to avoid a “traveling” stroke. Instead of moving the brush up and down and traveling rapidly over several teeth, brush a couple of teeth at a time, holding the brush in one place.

Use a softie. Often, people choose toothbrushes that have bristles that are too stiff. “Stiff bristles can actually injure the gums and create gingivitis,” says Jack W Clinton, D.M.D., associate dean of Patient Services at Oregon Health Sciences University School of Dentistry in Portland. “The softer the bristles, the less you have to worry about technique. ”

Brush your tongue and palate. In addition to brushing your teeth, Waddell advises brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth to cut down on the amount of bacteria present and to increase circulation in the tissue.

Electrify ‘em. Okay, so you hate to brush. It’s awkward and boring, or maybe it’s too difficult because you don’t have as much dexterity as you used to. Try one of the new “rotary” electric toothbrushes. “I advise anyone I see who has a gum disorder to use an electric toothbrush,” says Waddell. But, he warns, not all electric toothbrushes are created equal. Ask your dentist for a recommendation.

Floss, and floss again. “No matter how good a tooth brusher you are, you aren’t going to get your toothbrush bristles in between your teeth,” says Hazard. “That’s why flossing becomes important.” You might want to try a waxed floss (it may be easier to move between the teeth without getting hung up). Whenever possible, floss at least twice a day, advises Wismer. (For more information on proper flossing technique, see TARTAR AND PLAQUE.)

Irrigate it. While water irrigation devices like the Waterpik don’t take the place of flossing, they do clean debris out from pocket areas and from between the teeth and they massage the gums, says Hazard.

Use tartar-control toothpaste. Tartar is a hardened material that often contains bacterial debris and sometimes even plaque. “Tartar-control toothpastes help control some of the mineralization of plaque,” says Hazard. “Look for products that have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance or Recognition, which means they’ve been put through a testing process and their claims have been proven.”

Brush with baking soda. Once or twice a week, brush your teeth with baking soda. “Baking soda is a good abrasive, but not too abrasive so that it damages the enamel,” says Hazard. “It cleans the teeth well and makes the gums feel terrific.” Make a paste with a little baking soda and water, and brush thoroughly, especially around the gum line. Not only will the baking soda scrub off the plaque, it also neutralizes acidic bacterial wastes, deodorizes, and polishes your teeth.

Rinse it. Despite what many of the television advertisements seem to say, only one over-the­counter dental rinse, Listerine, has the acceptance of the ADA’s Council on Dental Therapeutics for reducing plaque. Ask your dentist if he or she thinks adding Listerine to your dental arsenal would be helpful for you. Hazard warns, however, that no mouth rinse will take the place of thorough brushing and flossing.

Bring on the salt water. Clinton recommends rinsing the mouth with a warm saltwater solution (half a teaspoon of salt to four ounces of warm water). Swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit (don’t swallow). “The salt water is very soothing to the inflamed tissue and gets rid of some of the bacteria,” says Clinton.

Swish. If you can’t brush right after eating, at least rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water, advises Clinton. “Even plain water can flush out debris and help prevent the inflammation of gingivitis,” he says.

Eat a balanced diet for overall good health. According to some researchers, a poor diet may cause gum diease to progress more rapidly or may increase the severity of the condition. So be sure to choose a wide variety of foods from the basic food groups-fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, meat and dairy products-to make sure you are giving your body all of the nutrients it needs for good health.

Schedule regular dental appointments. Having your teeth professionally cleaned and checked on a regular basis is essential for preventing and treating gum disease. It is especially important since you can have gum disease-or a recurrence of it-without noticing any symptoms. Talk to your dentist about how often you should schedule appointments. Then be sure to keep those appointments.

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