Not everyone with pink eye has a fever, but sometimes the two happen together. A viral illness or bacterial infection can sometimes cause a fever with eye symptoms.

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Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an infection or irritation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the moist, transparent tissue layer that lines the eyelid and covers the eyeball.

Symptoms of pine eye include red, swollen eyes; itchiness in the eyes; eye discharge; and — sometimes — fever.

Having pink eye is never a pleasant experience. But if you’re experiencing a fever along with goopy eyes, it can make conjunctivitis even more uncomfortable.

Learn more about pink eye and fever below.

Having a fever with pink eye usually means your body is fighting off a viral illness or a bacterial infection. When this happens, you may have other symptoms that point to your immune system fending off an invader.

These may include:

Most cases of pink eye are caused by viruses or bacteria, and either of them can cause fever.

The adenovirus is one of the most common viruses responsible for pink eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Bacterial conjunctivitis, on the other hand, can be caused by a number of bacteria species — most commonly Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus, or Streptococcus pneumoniae.

As the body attempts to fight off any of these viruses or bacteria, it may respond by elevating your temperature, giving you a fever.

Experiencing a fever with pink eye is a sign that your case of conjunctivitis is not due to causes like allergies or an irritating substance like a new shampoo or contact lens solution.

In general, pink eye will run its course in a few days or up to 2 weeks. However, if your symptoms are severe, you can ask your doctor about taking medication for pain or fever reduction.

They may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain relievers or other over-the-counter medications.

Additionally, if your doctor has identified a bacterial infection as the cause of your pink eye, you may be prescribed antibiotics. You should start to see improvement in your symptoms within 1 to 2 days of starting a course of antibiotics. (Just remember that your pink eye is contagious as long as you have symptoms.)

You can treat a case of pink eye with fever much like you would treat other viral illness. At-home care may involve:

To manage eye symptoms, you can also try placing a clean, wet washcloth over affected eyes as a compress for a few minutes at a time. And refrain from wearing contact lenses or eye makeup until symptoms subside.

A variety of viruses and bacteria can cause fever, swelling, redness, and the discharge that comes along with pink eye. A fever is your body’s attempt to kill off foreign invaders by making its temperature inhospitable to them.

Being more susceptible to viral or bacterial illness can increase the likelihood of getting pink eye with a fever. Some risk factors include:

  • having a health condition that affects your immune system
  • taking medication that suppresses your immune system
  • working in an environment that exposes you to viruses and bacteria, such as child care or a healthcare setting
  • not washing your hands frequently

Though you may not know whether your pink eye with fever is caused by a virus or bacteria, you can always take your temperature to find out whether you have a fever. A fever is typically defined as a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or greater.

If you visit your doctor for pink eye with a fever, they may also perform an eye exam or take a sample of cells from the inside of your eyelid. This will help them determine whether a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms.

If your pink eye is caused by a virus, the doctor may feel a swollen lymph node in front of your ear, a condition called preauricular adenopathy.

Can pink eye cause fever and vomiting?

The adenovirus, the most common cause of pink eye, can cause not only the discharge and redness of pink eye but fever and vomiting as well. Other gastrointestinal symptoms associated with adenovirus include diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.

Is pink eye a symptom of RSV?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) symptoms vary from person to person, but in some cases, this virus can cause conjunctivitis.

When should you go to the ER for pink eye?

Pink eye is not typically a cause for an ER visit. But if you have a fever that goes extremely high (such as over 103°F) without responding to at-home treatment, you may need to seek medical care.

Having a fever with pink eye is a sign that your body is fighting off a viral or bacterial infection. Though this combination of symptoms can be distressing, most cases of pink eye resolve on their own.

If a fever and crusty eyes haven’t resolved within a few days, talk with your doctor.