Eyes hurt when you have a cold

What causes eye pain during a cold?

Why do your eyes and head hurt when you have a cold, and how is it all connected? Many infectious diseases are accompanied by significant additional symptoms that cause inconvenience. In the case of a cold, this is fever, weakness, headache and eye pain. After recovery, all symptoms gradually disappear, with the exception of soreness in the eyes, which may persist for several days.

Under the influence of pathogenic microorganisms, an inflammatory process occurs, which causes eye pain. When you have a cold, many bacteria and viruses enter the body and begin to multiply and produce toxins. Spreading throughout the body, they are absorbed into muscle tissue, including the surrounding visual organs. This causes unpleasant sensations in the eyeballs and redness in the mucous membrane.

Another subtle cause is sinusitis, which develops as a result of colds. If you do not instill vasoconstrictor drugs into the nostrils, breathing will be disrupted and pressure will increase in the paranasal sinuses. This will provoke a headache (especially in the frontal area) and increased pressure in the eyeball.

We cannot rule out conjunctivitis, which can also cause eye pain when you have a cold, and only a doctor can tell you what to do. This disease causes severe burning and swelling, and bright light causes discomfort.

In most cases, when the eyes hurt when moving or at rest due to a cold, it is possible to get rid of the discomfort immediately after curing the underlying disease. The exception is cases when complications arise in the form of conjunctivitis or sinusitis.

Finally, we note that children’s eyes hurt when they have a cold for the same reasons as adults – the symptoms are the same.

Eyes hurt when you have a cold: what could be the reason?

Many compatriots are quite normal about the fact that when a person has a cold, a person has a sore throat and a runny nose, a stuffy nose or a loss of voice. Symptoms such as elevated body temperature are not always present.

However, the mucous membranes almost always swell as the body tries to get rid of the virus by secreting fluid. Here lies the answer to the question: why do the eyeballs hurt when you have a cold?

Anatomically, the nose is located close to the organs of vision, and therefore ophthalmological symptoms of the disease develop, but they are not present in everyone and not always.

If manifestations appear, they will be especially noticeable on the second or third day of the disease. Further, the swelling, as well as the pain, will decrease, and already on the fourth or fifth day after the onset of the disease it will disappear completely.

Another cause of inflammation and pain in the eyes during a cold may be the development of pathological processes in the body. This is due to a significant weakening of the immune system after the virus enters the body.

Where to start and how to relieve eye pain due to a cold

If an adult or child’s eyes hurt during or after a cold, and the causes of the pain are still unknown, try to make yourself feel better by following basic recommendations. If you have the flu rather than a cold, discomfort in your eyes may be caused by a high fever. In this case or with ARVI, you can alleviate the condition a little by doing the following:

  • closing the curtains and darkening the window;
  • stopping straining your eyes by watching TV, reading books or working on the computer;
  • doing some light gymnastics (moving your pupils in different directions and blinking).

If you suspect that your eyes are hurting due to a migraine when you have a cold, take a pain reliever and rest. Along with the disappearance of pain in the head, discomfort in the visual organs will also disappear.

Treatment of eye pain due to colds

The treatment regimen will depend on the cause of the eye pain. Regardless of it, the patient needs to cure the infectious disease (ARVI) as quickly as possible in order to eliminate pain.


  • Drink plenty of fluids. The patient should drink at least 2-3 liters of water daily. The purpose of introducing a plentiful drinking regime is to remove toxins from the body;
  • Home mode. It is not recommended to leave the house while the illness lasts and the infection is present in the body (especially with pronounced symptoms);
  • Minimum bright light. Try not to direct your gaze to sources of bright light (temporarily curtain the windows, do not look at electric lights, etc.).

Photo 8. Cold tablets with paracetamol

For colds accompanied by pain in the eyes, medications that include paracetamol are prescribed. They are able to relieve inflammation and headaches, reduce temperature (i.e. eliminate most of the potential causes of eye pain). Additionally, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, Nise) and medications that relieve swelling of the eyelids and periocular area (Rinza, Theraflu) are prescribed. They not only eliminate pain in the eyes during ARVI, but also prevent tearing.

A therapist or ophthalmologist may prescribe vasoconstrictor drops in combination with antibacterial agents. It is important that drops for constricting blood vessels must be used strictly according to the doctor’s instructions, otherwise the disease may take a chronic form.

Photo 9. Vasoconstrictor drops

To relieve pain in the organs of the visual system during a cold, you need to:

  • Regularly perform simple exercises with your eyes (movements up and down, left and right, etc.);
  • Make sure there is no overstrain of the visual organs (regulate the time of reading, watching TV, playing on a PC, etc.);
  • Do not touch your face, especially your eyes, with dirty hands; observe the rules of hygiene.

For swelling of the eyelid and periocular area, it is regularly recommended to apply cold and warm compresses. They not only relieve swelling and beauty, but also reduce tear production. If a headache is observed, painkillers are prescribed.

In practice, it is believed that pain in the eyes during a cold is one of the signs of the disease. In most cases, this is true, so it is enough to cure ARVI to eliminate redness of the visual organs, burning sensation and itching. If influenza causes intoxication of the body (poisoning with substances produced by viruses and bacteria), sorbent drugs are prescribed.

If you believe that there may be other causes of eye pain, or if you experience acute pain, you should seek help from a doctor. Pregnant women and children who experience pain in the visual organs are highly discouraged from postponing a visit to a therapist (pediatrician) or ophthalmologist!

How is diagnosis carried out?

If you have a cold, and along with a rise in temperature, pain and stinging in the eyes begin, it is better to see a therapist. He will examine you and study your medical history, as well as make a diagnosis. If the root cause is detected, he will prescribe treatment, and otherwise, write a referral to an ophthalmologist.

You will also have to undergo a diagnosis from an eye doctor. The specialist will ask about your health and symptoms, clarify the probable causes of eye pain and prescribe appropriate medications.

Treatment with drugs

We have found out why the eyes hurt when a child or adult has a cold, and now we will look at ways to deal with unpleasant sensations. The symptom can be caused by different diseases, therefore the treatment methods may be different, depending on the clinical case. At the same time, there is one general recommendation that allows you to quickly remove eye pain from a cold. It is necessary to establish a drinking regime in order to quickly remove toxins from the body, and you should also rest more.

In case of a cold in which the eyes hurt without fever or with a slight increase in temperature (up to 37 degrees), you can take a drug based on paracetamol or NSAIDs. They normalize temperature and relieve inflammation, having a beneficial effect on the body and eliminating headaches and eye pain.

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) include Nise and Ibuprofen, which effectively fight muscle pain, and they often provoke soreness in the eyes during a cold.

Powders containing paracetamol and decongestant components also help:

  • Fervex;
  • Rinza;
  • Coldrex;
  • TeraFlu.

They relieve painful symptoms and eliminate tearing, itching and burning. When conjunctivitis develops along with a cold, it is better to see an ophthalmologist or tell your therapist about it. Without a doctor, it is not easy to cure such a complication, and it can become chronic. Bacteria will simply lose sensitivity to the components of the drugs. Most often, doctors prescribe medications for patients with conjunctivitis for colds such as:

  • Sulfacyl Sodium;
  • Albucid;
  • Tsipromed.

These are all topical antibiotics instilled into the eyes. If conjunctivitis during a cold is viral, careful eye hygiene is necessary with rinsing with Furacilin solution and the use of interferons (for example, Actipol).

In serious cases of pain in the eyes due to a cold, doctors prescribe eye ointments to patients, and Tetracycline is especially common. Sometimes doctors use antibacterial drops, including:

  • Torbex;
  • Gentamicin;
  • Tsiprolet.

It is important not to start treatment for sinusitis, since advanced stages require a puncture of the sinus. In the initial stages, vasoconstrictor drops and local antibiotics help, as well as regular rinsing 3-4 times a day. Additionally, doctors recommend taking vitamins and doing phototherapy, which relieves discomfort and improves the condition of the patient’s nervous system.


The treatment regimen in each case is prescribed individually, depending on the cause that provoked the pain in the visual organs. Most often, patients are prescribed:

  • Antipyretic and painkillers, mainly based on paracetamol and ibuprofen;
  • Vasoconstrictors to reduce nasal swelling and normalize nasal breathing. This includes Rinorus, Nazivin and Naphthyzin;
  • Vitamin preparations with a high content of vitamin C. Help improve immunity and speed up recovery;
  • Antibacterial drops and ointments if conjunctivitis or other eye infection is observed. Tobrex, Floxal and Levomycetin drops are often prescribed. At night, it is recommended to put an antibacterial ointment, for example, Tobrex, into the conjunctival sac;
  • If the mucous membrane is very dry and irritated, it is recommended to use artificial tears. These include Vizin and Slezin. They need to be instilled as needed, several times a day.

Proven folk recipes will also help reduce pain in the eyes during colds. Warm tea bags are applied to the eyelids several times a day. You can make compresses based on chamomile infusion. To do this, soak cotton pads in a warm broth and apply them to the eyelids.

When dealing with colds, don’t forget about proper nutrition. The diet should contain a lot of vitamin products - vegetables, fruits, berries and herbs. During illness, it is worth limiting the consumption of confectionery products, semi-finished products and smoked products.

To reduce eye pain, you should get plenty of rest. When you have a cold, it is advisable to rest in a room with the curtains drawn to avoid irritation of the mucous membranes from sunlight.

One of the signs of a cold or flu is severe pain in the head and eyeballs. To eliminate this unpleasant phenomenon, it is enough to drink paracetamol and lie quietly with your eyelids closed. If purulent discharge is observed from the eyes, you should see a doctor immediately.

What folk remedies will help with eye pain?

There are proven folk remedies that have a good anti-inflammatory effect. For example, you can brew wild rosemary, oregano, chamomile, eucalyptus or St. John's wort. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of any of these herbs into a glass of boiling water and hold for half an hour in a water bath, and then leave to infuse in a thermos. Strain and add water to get 200-250 ml. Use the solution to rinse your sinuses to relieve inflammation. At the same time, you will also remove eye pain that occurs during a cold or remains after it.

Another remedy is ordinary salt water, which is necessary for rinsing. Prepare a weak solution of a glass of water and a couple of spoons of salt (sea or table), and rinse your sinuses with it up to four times a day. A solution of soda (1 spoon per glass of water) is also suitable.

There is nothing complicated about rinsing your nose. Pour a little suitable liquid into your palm or saucer, and suck it in with your nose (preferably one nostril), hold it a little and blow your nose. The main thing is to do everything smoothly, otherwise the infection will reach your ears, and you don’t want that.

If you don’t know how to rinse your nose, and your eyes hurt a lot when you have a cold, prepare drops from cumin and cornflower. You will need a spoon of cumin seeds, which you need to add a glass of water and leave on low heat. After boiling, leave to cook for five minutes, add a spoonful of dried cornflowers and the same amount of plantain. Continue cooking for a few more minutes and then let sit overnight. Strain and use the decoction as a nasal drop up to three times a day for a week.

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