How to Diagnose Puffy Eyelids That Won't Go Away

Puffy eyelids are generally not indicative of an underlying health problem, according to the Mayo Clinic, which describes the condition as common in older adults. Usually most pronounced after waking up, baggy eyes often come simply from fluids pooling beneath the eyes overnight, explains Mary Stefanyszyn, MD, an ophthalmology surgeon at Wills Eye Institute. Several factors are typically involved in the development of puffy eyelids. See your doctor for diagnosis, however, if the condition is severe and persistent or if it is accompanied by redness, itchiness or pain in or around the eyes, or by swelling elsewhere on the body.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Add another pillow under the one you sleep with, or prop up the head-end of your mattress slightly. As Scientific American points out, lying flat overnight as you sleep is one of the more common causes of puffiness under the eyes 2. If sleeping with your head elevated clears up the condition, you'll know it was caused by your body's position and pooling of fluids beneath your eyes.

The Difference Between Eye Puffiness & Eye Bags

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Sleep more if you aren't getting a healthy seven to eight hours a night. Though inadequate sleep isn't a leading cause of puffy eyelids, according to ScienceLine, it can contribute to puffiness. Additionally, being tired in the morning and throughout the day can trigger rubbing of the eyes, which may irritate the eyelids, causing inflammation. With adequate sleep, the condition might resolve, providing a diagnosis of fatigue.

Change your pillow if yours is stuffed with feathers. It's possible your baggy eyes are caused by an allergy to the feathers, and you'll know if they improve after switching to a pillow stuffed with a synthetic material, as the, a natural health website, suggests.

Yellow Bags Under Eyes

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Treat yourself for allergies with over-the-counter or prescription medications if you have other symptoms like dry or watery eyes, nasal congestion, hives, sneezing or coughing. The Mayo Clinic identifies exposure to allergens as a common cause of eye puffiness.

Consume less salt in your diet, especially in the hours immediately before bed. As ScienceLine explains, salt promotes fluid retention, and eye bags are generally a sign of excess water in the fatty tissue beneath the eyes 3. If cutting back on salt solves the problem, your level of salt consumption was the cause of your puffy eyelids.

Note whether it's the time of your menstrual cycle, or whether you're experiencing other signs and symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, irregular periods, thinning hair, vaginal dryness or mood swings. The hormonal changes associated with menstruation and menopause can cause puffy eyes.

Consider whether you're experiencing other signs of aging, particularly in your skin and body composition. Puffiness under the eyes is a typical byproduct of aging, according to Paul Lazar, M.D., a professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University. Over time, skin sags and thins, muscles atrophy and collagen levels deplete, all contributing to baggy eyes. Often, the aging process is the diagnosis.

Look at your parents' faces. Some puffy eyelids are simply genetic, according to ScienceLine. If one or both of your parents have puffy eyelids, you probably inherited them.


Talk to your doctor about your puffy eyelids if no other cause is obvious. While the condition is rarely a concern, it can, in some instances, be a symptom of thyroid or kidney problems.