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Ten Causes of Under Eye Swelling

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Published on Oct 27, 2023

Under-eye swelling usually goes away on its own. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice any swelling or other symptoms that don't disappear on their own. This will help to prevent further eye damage and treat the problem.

A common cosmetic problem is under-eye swelling. You don't usually need to treat it. In some cases, however, swelling under your eyes can be a sign that you have a more serious or minor health condition.

It's possible that the "bags" beneath your eyes run in your family. The tissues surrounding the eyes can weaken due to aging and genetics. Fat can then move into the lower lids and make them appear swollen. Your skin is thin and delicate around your eyes. Treating the underlying issue can smooth out your eye area, if you have one. Here are 10 reasons for under-eye swelling and how to treat and prevent them.

1. Too much salt in the diet

A diet high in sodium or salt can be harmful to your health and appearance. Additional sodium can cause your body to retain water. Excess water can cause puffiness on the face and in other parts of the body. This is more common in the morning following a salted meal.

It is more likely that the thin skin surrounding your eyes will become puffy. The bloating can cause under-eye bags or swelling. Your body will de-puff the area. It could take several hours or even more. Reduce the amount of salt you consume to reduce swelling under your eyes. Avoid or limit processed and packaged food that contains added salt. Water helps flush sodium out.

Consuming foods rich in potassium helps counteract the salt. These include:

  • bananas
  • yogurt
  • potatoes
  • Apricots dried

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat no more than 1,500 milligrammes per day. The majority of Americans consume more than twice that amount every day.

2. Crying

Crying can cause fluid to accumulate around your eyes. This causes puffiness. A little swelling under the eyes will usually go away by itself.

3. Sleeping too little

According to a research study Trusted Source: Not enough sleep can cause swelling under the eyes. This can also lead to droopy eyes, red eyes, and dark circles around the eyes. Pale skin and a droopy lip are other signs.

Lack of sleep can cause the muscles surrounding your eyes to weaken. This can lead to the loss of collagen, the elastic tissue under the eye. Fluid can collect under the eyes, causing swelling.

The swelling under the eyes can last from a few minutes to up to 24 hours. If you have poor sleep regularly, some signs may become permanent. An average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night.

4. Allergies

Allergies may cause fluid to accumulate in your sinuses or around your eyes. It can cause swelling under the eyes. Your eyes can become watery, red, or itchy due to an allergic reaction. Common eye allergies include:

  • pollen
  • dust
  • Mold
  • smoke
  • Pollution
  • dander
  • Animal fur
  • Chemicals
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Allergies can cause puffy eyes. Mast cells, the protective cells that line your eyeballs, release histamine, an immune protein, to combat allergens. Your eyes will become sensitive and watery. You will also experience watery eyes as your eyes swell up and wash away the allergen.

Treatment for eye allergies is also simple. To prevent symptoms, avoid allergens to the greatest extent possible. Using artificial tear eye drops to rinse your eyes and wash out your nose can also help. Under-eye swelling can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Try:

  • antihistamines (Claritin, Benadryl)
  • Decongestants
  • eye drops (Visine, Alaway)

You may be prescribed a steroid shot or allergy injection to reduce your sensitivity to the allergen.

5. Smoking

You can get irritation in your eyes from smoking cigarettes, shisha, or cigars. If you are exposed to secondhand or third hand smoking, it can cause an allergic reaction. This can cause your eyes to water, causing swelling under the eye.

Avoid secondhand smoke and quit smoking to prevent eye puffiness. If you are sensitive to smoke particles, clean surfaces and objects in your car and home. After being in the presence of smokers, wash your hair and clothes.

6. Eye Infections

An eye infection may cause swelling under the eyes in either one or both of your eyes. An infection can occur in either the eyelid or the eye. Infection and swelling usually start in one eye but can spread quickly to the other.

Avoid touching or rubbing the eye. A common eye infection will usually go away in a few days. You may require antibiotic treatment.

Under-eye swelling can be caused by:

  • Pink eye. This infection, also known as conjunctivitis or pink eye, can be caused by bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and other irritants. Pink eyes can occur at any age.
  • Stye. An infection of the eyelash follicles or tear glands is a stye. The bump usually starts as a small bump on your lash line. Styes can cause swelling, redness, and pus to develop in the eye or on the eyelid.
  • Chalazion. A challenge is similar to a style. A blocked oil gland is the cause. It looks like a small bump. If it becomes infected, swelling can occur.
  • Periorbital cellulitis. This inflammation or infection around the eye is usually caused by sinus infections. This can also be caused by a scratch on the eyelid or an injury. It is important to seek medical attention.

A clean, damp towel can be used to reduce swelling and tenderness in the area around your eyes. Consult your doctor if you suspect an infection. You may require antibiotics or another treatment to relieve the pressure.

7. Blockage of the tear duct

The tear ducts are responsible for draining away the tears and water from your eyes. Fluid can collect around the eyes if they are blocked. Under-eye swelling can result from this.

It is not only common for babies to have a blocked tear duct, but also for children and adults. Blockages can be caused by an infection, makeup, or even an eye injury. It usually clears on its own within a few days.

Normally, a warm compress or washing the eye out with sterile salt water will help clear the obstruction. You may require treatment in more severe cases. A tumor can cause a blocked tear duct in adults.

The following are signs and symptoms that indicate a blocked tear duct:

  • Watery or excessively tearing eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • redness
  • Eye infection or inflammation
  • Pain
  • Crusting
  • The mucus or pus

8. Injury

You can get a small scratch around your eye from a nail or makeup brush. A minor injury can cause swelling under the eyes as the body heals the thin and soft skin around the eye.

A blow to the eye or in its vicinity can cause puffiness. The eye moves down a little when hit by a blunt object or punch. Blood rushes into the area. Blood and fluids can cause swelling or bruises under the eye.

9. Graves disease

Graves disease, also known as thyroid eye disease, This occurs when the thyroid gland fails to balance thyroid hormones. Graves disease can sometimes occur if you are taking too much thyroid medicine. You'll need to get treatment right away. Your doctor may prescribe medication or another treatment.

Around 30% of those with this condition have eye symptoms. This includes bulging eyes and swelling under the eyes. Graves disease can cause changes to the tissues around the eyes. Other eye symptoms and signs include:

  • gritty sensation
  • Pain or pressure
  • redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision or vision loss

10. Mononucleosis

Eye and vision changes, including under-eye swelling, could be telltale indicators of mononucleosis. It is also known as "kissing illness" but can be spread by sneezes or coughs. Eye symptoms include:

  • redness
  • Pain
  • seeing "floaters"

A virus is responsible for mononucleosis. It is not treatable with antibiotics. Symptoms of this condition include

  • Sore throat
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  • swollen tonsils
  • Swelling in the neck and armpits
  • Skin rash

How to reduce swelling

Most of the time, swelling under the eyes will go away by itself. The cause will determine whether you need to seek treatment. Your doctor might prescribe:

  • anti-allergy medication
  • Antibiotic or antiviral medications
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • antibacterial eye drops
  • steroid eye drops

Home remedies

In most cases, you can soothe the under-eye area. You can use one of the home remedies to help your eyes bounce after a long night, a salty meal, or a bout with crying.

  • Cold compress. Apply a wet, clean washcloth to the eye area. Use the back of a spoon chilled in the refrigerator to massage the eye area. You can also store your eye serum or cream in the refrigerator and use it as a cooling gel.
  • Tea bags. The caffeine in tea can help reduce swelling and draw out water from your eye area. Try soaking two tea bags in cold, lukewarm water. Place them over closed eyes, and lie back for 15-20 minutes.
  • Facial Massage. Massage your face with your fingers or with a metal roller. Massage or tap gently around your sinuses and eyes to drain excess fluid.

When should you see a doctor?

If you notice swelling around your eyeballs that does not disappear after 48 to 24 hours, consult your doctor. Mild eye infections can disappear on their own. You should have it checked to see if it is more serious. Untreated, an infection in the eye can lead to complications.

If you experience symptoms of an infection in your eye or another health condition, seek immediate medical care. They include:

  • redness
  • Pain
  • White fluid or pus
  • One eye is swelling.
  • Pressure
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Eye bulging
  • Watery Eyes
  • weight loss

The bottom line

Normal swelling under the eyelids is not uncommon. Usually, it goes away on its own. If you experience swelling under your eyes that doesn't go away or other symptoms, consult your doctor. It is crucial to seek treatment early to avoid damage to your eye.

Credit: The Web Health & Drugs Discussion