It is simple to become overwhelmed by the plethora of symptoms (such as coughs, sniffles, sneezes, and body pains) that come with colds, the flu, or COVID-19 when you’re feeling under the weather. But in addition to these uncomfortable sensations, watery eyes—another often disregarded but uncomfortable symptom—may also emerge. The medical word for watery eyes is epiphora, and the Cleveland Clinic states that this is a normal body reaction to viral illnesses like the flu or the common cold.
Even while it might only seem like a small annoyance at first, the unceasing flow of tears can get annoying, especially when you’re not feeling well. Thankfully, there are a few things you may do to feel better and obtain some relief if you have watery eyes when you’re unwell. Above all, healing and easing any discomfort you may be feeling primarily depend on maintaining your eyes clean, soothed, and lubricated.
To relieve inflammation, wipe your eyelids with a warm, moist towel to clear away any debris and calm your eyes. Apply a warm, moist cloth over your closed eyelids for five to ten minutes, many times a day, for additional calming comfort. Although it may seem paradoxical, using eye drops to replenish moisture and lubrication can help calm and relax your eyes. This is because dryness-induced irritation may be the reason your eyes are watering. Furthermore, obtaining adequate sleep enables the body to concentrate on warding off infections and lessening symptoms like watery eyes.
You may reduce the likelihood of getting watery eyes by staying away from allergens like dust and smoke. A humidifier can help provide moisture to the air and prevent eye irritation if you live in a dry climate. In order to stop the transmission of germs and lower your chance of developing eye infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises not touching or rubbing your eyes and washing your hands often with soap and water.
Your body’s immune system works overtime while you’re ill to combat the virus that is causing you harm. The University of Melbourne states that this procedure may result in irritation of the mucous membranes lining your eyes. Consequently, there may be an accumulation of tears in your eyes due to clogged tear ducts. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the body naturally produces tears to lubricate, wash away irritants, and shield the eyes. On the other hand, frequent tears can cause pain and the sensation that something is in your eyes.
Allergies may also be the source of your wet eyes. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that allergies are caused by an overreaction of our immune system to common allergens such as dust mites, pollen, or pet dander. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies often don’t accompany other cold or flu symptoms like aches, discomfort, or fever. This is in contrast to viral illnesses. Watery eyes can also be brought on by other conditions including dry eyes, irritants in the environment, and some drugs.
Usually not a huge concern, watery eyes fade away on their own as your body heals. However, it’s a good idea to see your doctor if your watery eyes are severe or accompanied by other symptoms, or if you’ve had them for longer than a week or two. There can be a condition below that requires care.
You should consult a doctor as soon as possible if you have any changes in your vision, such as double vision, fuzzy vision, or light sensitivity. A more serious eye issue might be indicated by changes in vision. It’s crucial to visit a doctor if you have pain, redness, or discharge from your eyes as these symptoms may point to an infection such as conjunctivitis, also referred to as pink eye. Additionally, don’t wait to get medical help if you have extremely watery eyes in addition to other unsettling symptoms like fever, sinus discomfort, or trouble breathing. These might indicate a more serious sickness like a sinus infection or respiratory disease.
Tricia Goss of Health Digest contributed to this report