Swollen eyelids – local and general causes. Eyelid edema research and treatment
Swollen eyelids can be an aesthetic problem – the result of fatigue, lack of sleep or crying, but they can also herald diseases: local, such as contact allergy or barley, and systemic, such as thyroid disease. If swelling of the eyelids is not the result of fatigue, does not go away or is accompanied by alarming symptoms, you should see a doctor and perform diagnostic tests.
Causes of swollen eyelids: local and general
The most common cause of swelling of the eyelids reported to the doctor are allergic reactions : affecting only the eyelid or generalized – e.g. associated with swelling of the nasal mucosa or more serious angioedema ( Quincke’s edema ). A stye , chalazion , or an insect bite may be responsible for swelling in one eyelid . However, both eyelids can swell if we have a migraine, hypothyroidism or conjunctivitis.
Swelling of the eyelids occurs not only as a consequence of diseases affecting the eyelids, eyes and their surroundings, but also the whole body.
Possible causes of swollen eyelids include:
local diseases (e.g. local allergy, chalazion, stye, blepharitis, infectious blepharitis, shingles, insect bite),
diseases of the orbit and the surrounding area (e.g. orbital inflammation, cavernous sinus thrombosis),
generalized diseases (e.g. hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, systemic allergic reactions, generalized edema).
How to recognize and what tests to perform?
The diagnosis of swollen eyelids (eyelid edema) is primarily based on clinical signs . Many of the causes can be identified by examining the patient and evaluating the symptoms.
For example, itching , lack of pain (sometimes generalized reactions such as hives , wheezing, allergic rhinitis ) indicate an allergic basis of swollen eyes. In the event of general symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling in other parts of the body, an ambulance should be called.
When the swelling covers not only the eyelids, but also the face, feet or hands are swollen , the doctor may suspect kidney, liver or heart disease, so he should order additional tests: determination of liver enzymes (so-called liver tests ), creatinine (used to monitor kidney function) , ECG , heart echo .
If, in addition to swelling of the eyes, cilia are involved, light scales are visible on the eyelid margins , then blepharitis should be suspected. In addition, burning, itching, redness appear. An ophthalmologist makes a diagnosis without examination and prescribes medication.
In turn, exophthalmos, characteristic of hyperthyroidism , may also be a symptom of orbital inflammation (however, it usually occurs unilaterally) or cavernous sinus thrombosis. When exophthalmos occurs without pain, it is necessary to test thyroid hormones ( TSH , T4), and if diseases of the orbit and the surrounding area are suspected (there may be fever, pain, including headache , paralysis of eye movements, visual acuity), urgently computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging should be performed.
The eye and the surrounding area are often affected by the dormant pox virus , which becomes active as shingles . It is difficult to confuse this disease with another – in addition to swelling of one eyelid and eye, grouped blisters are visible , drying up over time , ulceration, redness of the skin, and the patient feels severe pain . The doctor makes a diagnosis without additional tests. Treatment consists of taking painkillers, antivirals and corticosteroid ointments for swelling of the eyelid and eye.
Localized redness and pain, and a whitish lump , as well as swelling of the eyelid margin or eyelid, indicate a chalazion or stye. In both cases, you should visit an ophthalmologist. The doctor prescribes an antibiotic ointment or drops. In the case of barley, heating or dry warming compresses are helpful.
Both chalazion and stye can go away on their own. If emergency treatment is not effective, surgery is performed.
It should be added that if the swelling of the eyelids occurs with local warming of the tissues, redness, pain (intensifying when touched) , it indicates inflammation or infection. If the eyes are swollen but not itchy , it is more likely to indicate cardiovascular or kidney disease. In turn, itching tells us about allergies.
If the symptoms are limited to one eye , do not panic, it is usually nothing serious. However, if the swelling is large, bilateral, we should be concerned and prompt a visit to the doctor.
Alarming symptoms with swollen eyelids
Whenever you notice these symptoms in addition to swollen eyelids, you should seek medical help:
- difficulty or inability to move your eyes poke the eyeballs,
- vision problems, e.g. loss of visual acuity.
- Treating puffy eyes
If swelling of the eyelids was caused by an allergy to some ingredient, e.g. plant, cosmetic, medicine, then the symptoms should be alleviated after eliminating the allergen . A cold compress will also bring relief . If the swelling has not subsided after 24 hours, the use of a corticosteroid ointment is recommended .
Allergy is not always the cause of the ailment. In other circumstances, the disease causing the swelling must be treated .