allergic reaction?
January 25, 2011 6:13 AM   Subscribe

My left eye is swollen and tender to the touch, and my whole body itches. It's been like this for about a week. I have an appointment next week but my health insurance doesn't kick in until February 1 -- is this something I should worry about before then?

My partner thinks it's an allergic reaction (maybe to new laundry detergent). I'm mostly worried about the eye -- the rim is visibly swollen and it hurts to blink. Don't think it's pinkeye, since nobody else has gotten it and it's been like this for awhile. I took some benadryl and it helped a bit, but the eye is still wonky this morning.

Armchair diagnoses welcome --- would appreciate some advice!
posted by puckish to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Based on my own experiences with similar things (including the eyes swelling up), it certainly sounds like it could be an allergic reaction. In your shoes, I would keep on-loading Benadryl at regular intervals today and this evening, and if things didn't improve, bite the bullet and see someone about it, because, on the one hand: yeah, allergies, whatever. On the other hand: eyes are not something to mess around with.
posted by not that girl at 6:17 AM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Are you in the US? If you are, why not go into a pharmacy and ask the pharmacist? A pharmacist can eyeball (pun intended) your condition and give you better advice than we can. Also, they will be able to point you to cheap or free resources in your community, since they deal with people without insurance all day long.
posted by vincele at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do you wear contact lenses at all?

If so, contact-lens-related eye infections are nothing to mess about with - they need antibiotics pronto.
posted by with the singing green stars as our guide at 6:29 AM on January 25, 2011

If it were me, I would err on the side of caution, and see a GP if it hadn't cleared up after 24 hours of antihistamines.

This is partially because my father has one glass eye due to an eye infection (seriously).
posted by with the singing green stars as our guide at 6:38 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go to an urgent care, they usually require around $100 cash up-front to see you. They won't do much, you are having an allergic reaction (as mentioned) and probably now have an eye infection from rubbing it with bacteria infested hands. You may get some IV/IM diphenhydramine and antibiotic eye drops. Good luck.
posted by rotifer at 6:49 AM on January 25, 2011

My wife had an allergic reaction in her eyes twice and it wasn't anything like what you are describing. You may have an allergic reaction elsewhere that is squeezing tear ducts or perhaps bacteria clogged the whole system, but the point is we don't and can't know for sure, and it's extremely easy to loose an eye. Seek medical attention immediately.

BTW - eye docs with private practices seem to charge less than hospitals. You might stop by one and ask the receptionist what she thinks, giving the insurance situation. With a small place they may be more willing to delay charging till after insurance kicks in.
posted by jwells at 7:52 AM on January 25, 2011

If they have them in your area, this is a normal thing to see a nurse practitioner for. Check with area pharmacies as some of them have low-cost NP clinics, usually $40-60 for the visit. If they suspect infection, they usually can prescribe antibiotics.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:06 AM on January 25, 2011

I had a swollen right eyelid last week. It didn't really hurt but it itched a bit. I usually ignore minor medical conditions but this was my eye. I went to the doctor on Friday and this is what he did: He checked both eyelids as well as underneath the lids. He then gently stroked the swollen lid, which was very soft to the touch.

I'm not your doctor and I have no medical training so take this for what it's worth.

This is what he told me- The eye and underneath the lids looked normal so it wasn't conjunctivitis. It wasn't a sty since he couldn't feel a hard bump. So it was probably an allergy. However, since it was only one eye, it was probably not something I ate. The most likely scenario was that something irritated the eyelid and the eyelid reacted. He also said that if I monitored it, it would be worst in the morning and less inflamed at night.

He prescribed Claritin (not Claritin-D) and I take one pill a day. I was supposed to call the office if the swelling didn't go down over the weekend. Well the swelling did go down and it's almost completely normal today. I'm still wearing my glasses though (per the Doctor's orders) until it goes away completely.

A five pill box of generic Claritin was on sale $1.00 at CVS.

Have you been shoveling snow lately? He told me that is the most likely source of the irritant but I'd never know for sure.
posted by JohntheContrarian at 8:11 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

When it comes to your vision, take no chances. Your eye sounds like what happened to me when I got iritis, and if I had postponed treatment I might have lost vision in that eye.

Don't wait for your insurance. Go see a doctor now.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:01 AM on January 25, 2011

It's concerning that this has been going on for a week. Has it gotten worse? If so, bite the bullet and go to the doctor. Call up your doctor's office, and explain the situation about the itchiness and swollen eye and your lack of insurance. They will probably be willing to work with you. A walk-in clinic might work if you don't already have a doctor. It will cost less than urgent care..

It does sound like an allergic reaction. Take benadryl at regular intervals, as someone already suggested. They are cheap, and shouldn't hurt anything.

Go to the doctor if your eye doesn't improve after a day of taking the allergy medication, or if you are having difficulty breathing

posted by annsunny at 9:06 AM on January 25, 2011

Go to the doctor if the allergy medication hasn't cleared things up in a day or two. Itching and eye pain could conceivably be shingles--have you ever had chicken pox? You would want to rule out shingles, which can be serious.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2011

Sounds like an allergy. I've a colleague at work whose tree pollen allergy makes her look like she's been beaten up, her eyes swell up so bad. Pharmacist sounds a wise route.
posted by prentiz at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2011

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