What is Cotton Fever and How Long Does it Last?

Recreational substance abuse is dangerous no matter what the drug is that someone uses. Cotton fever or fever and leukocytosis are a serious risk for IV drug users. However, depending on which substance is used, there are direct effects that can be intense and even life-threatening in some cases. Sometimes, even if there isn’t a life-threatening illness, there may be emaciation, undernourishment, or infectious diseases.

Cotton fever is one condition that is commonly found in those who use IV drugs such as meth, cocaine or heroin. The illness is incredibly unpleasant and dangerous. When someone prepares a drug such as heroin or meth, they often use makeshift materials and supplies, so they can heat, filter and load the syringes with as much of the drug as they can get. One thing that is needed to completely make heroin or other dangerous drugs is cotton. It is used to filter adulterants out of the solution.

The problem with the cotton is that many people will use cigarette filters, the end of q-tips or other pieces of random cotton, instead of actual filters. With these makeshift options, pieces of debris and adulterants can still get into the syringes and end up in the user’s bloodstream, leading to cotton fever.

This condition has been around consistently since the original spike of IV drug use during the 1970s. It has been determined that during the process of preparing the drugs, an infection develops and leads to fever and leukocytosis symptoms. This is just one more reason why professional addiction treatment is so essential.

What are the signs of cotton fever?

Now that you know more about what this fever is or where it comes from, it would be a good idea to learn about some of the common signs of this condition. It is important to know that in many cases the signs of fever and leukocytosis mimic those of heroin withdrawal symptoms. The main fever and leukocytosis symptoms would occur in under half an hour after injecting the drug into the body. Some of the common symptoms that may occur include:

  • General malaise
  • Muscle pain
  • Pain in the bones
  • Nausea
  • Feelings unwell
  • Discomfort
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Extreme muscle and joint pain
  • Severe kidney and back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe tremors and shivering
  • Feeling cold
  • Anxiety
  • Increased resting heart rate to 100 beats or more per minute

Since cotton fever symptoms generally occur shortly after taking the drugs, many users assume the infection happened because cotton went into their syringe during the filtration process and got into their bloodstream after that. That is where the name cotton fever comes from.

However, over time, it has been found that the main cause of this condition was not because cotton got into the user’s bloodstream. Studies show that cotton fever has nothing to do with cotton being in the bloodstream at all. Instead, there are two other scenarios for why it still known as cotton fever. In the 1940s, cotton farmers figured out that endotoxin is released by bacteria and colonizing the cotton plants. Some of the bacteria is left on the cotton which can cause an infection when someone uses that cotton for IV drugs. While the bacteria isn’t generally harmful, when it gets into someone’s bloodstream, the user can experience the symptoms noted above. Another reason why someone may develop an infection, known as cotton fever, is due to an inflammatory blood infection or sepsis. This is caused from unsafe or unsanitary IV drug use. Particularly, it is caused by the use of unsafe syringes. They should be disposed of after each use, but many drug users share or use the needles more than once, leading to mold and bacteria growing inside the IV chambers. Then, that bacteria or mold is shooted into the bloodstream causing cotton fever.

Over the years, IV drug users have developed a range of other infections. Many times, when the symptoms mimic those noted above, they are diagnosed with having cotton fever, even if that is not the case.

What is cotton fever caused by?

As noted above, cotton fever is caused by one of two things – both being something to do with bacteria from IV drug use entering into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, IV drug use is not safe no matter how it is done. There are always going to be risks when it comes to this type of drug use. Sometimes, the risks are higher than others, especially when certain drugs or materials are used.

The problem is that people who are addicted to drugs such as cocaine, heroin or meth can’t put aside their drug use no matter what the negative consequences may be – not until they get help in treating the drug abuse or addiction.

What is cotton fever caused by? -  What is Cotton Fever and How Long Does it Last?

If you are abusing cocaine, heroin, meth or any other IV drugs, there are treatment programs here at ARIA FL that you can get into.

What treatments are available for IV drug abuse?

Do you or someone you know have an addiction to shooting up meth, cocaine, dope, heroin or other IV drugs? If so, it is crucial to know about the many different treatment options available for this type of drug abuse. It is also helpful to know about the many services offered in these drug addiction treatment programs, as well.

Some of the treatments and services avaialble to help those who have IV drug abuse problems or an addiction to these drugs include:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Nature therapy
  • Art or music therapy
  • Individual or group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment programs

If you aren’t sure which one of these programs would be best for you, don’t hesitate to let a member of our team know that you need help. We will do our very best to enroll you in a treatment program that offers services you need. Over time, we can adjust the services to continue meeting your addiction recovery needs.

How long does cotton fever last?

If someone develops cotton fever, they can expect the symptoms to be quite unpleasant. However, these symptoms will generally subside in about 24 hours. If the infection is more severe, the condition may last longer. However, there are usually treatments offered in hospitals and other facilities such as drug detox programs to help a person overcome cotton fever. Here at ARIA FL, we can help you get the treatment you need.

How long does cotton fever last? -  What is Cotton Fever and How Long Does it Last?

Is there a cure for cotton fever?

How do you get rid of cotton fever? Is there even a cure? While cotton fever is very uncomfortable, there are ways to get over it. Most of the time there are antibiotics prescribed by a doctor or emergency room services that can help to ease the symptoms. If you attend a drug detox program, you can get help handling and overcoming cotton fever, as well. There are many ways that our ARIA FL team can help you or someone you know to treat and overcome this condition.

What is Cotton Fever and How Long Does it Last? - Is there a cure for cotton fever?

In addition to the tips mentioned to the left, you can also take a warm bath, use warm compresses, wrap in a warm blanket or take long naps.

If you think that you or someone you know has cotton fever, but you aren’t sure, you may want to think about going into a detox center or emergency room for symptom relief. In the first 24 hours, symptoms can be quite intense. However, for some people, the symptoms only last a few hours.

Get Into a Professional Addiction Treatment Program Today

Do you want to know how to prevent cotton fever and other addiction-related infections and illnesses? If so, our ARIA FL team can help you. It all starts with admitting you have a drug abuse problem or addiction. From there, we can get you into a treatment program that helps you to get clean and stop using IV drugs and other substances. Without shooting up these drugs, you won’t be able to get cotton fever.

Contact us today to get started in a professional addiction treatment program. It could be the difference between a healthy future and a terrible, dangerous infection.