Conjunctivitis and the cold are two common infections that can be caused by various agents including viruses or bacteria. It is possible for the two infections to occur together, but they can also appear separately with similar symptoms. Another name given to conjunctivitis is pink eye. Treatment of either infection, when caused by a virus, is to treat the symptoms until the virus resolves. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis typically impact the eyes. The Kids Health website suggests the most likely eye signs of infection include itching, redness, inflammation and swelling. Specifically, the eyelid and the whites of the eyes become red, also described as pink, and inflamed. A cold can cause similar effects, but it is more likely the eyes will water. Conjunctivitis can cause white, yellow or greenish gooey liquid. In the morning the infection can cause a crust to form over the eye. The eye doesn't usually hurt from the infection, but the itching can feel as if sand or some other irritant is lodged in the eye. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the individual may experience light sensitivity on top of other symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that when pink eye is caused by certain viruses or occurs with another viral infection, respiratory symptoms can appear. Respiratory effects are the most likely reaction with a cold. This includes coughing or sneezing.
A sore throat, mucus drainage or congestion of the nasal passages are other common symptoms of the cold. These are not symptoms of pink eye when it occurs alone, but they are possible with other infections. Coughing can bring up sputum, but this is also not an effect of pink eye.