What Causes Cotton Fever?

What Causes Cotton Fever?

You may have heard the term “cotton fever” before, but do you know where this illness comes from?

What Is Cotton Fever?

Cotton fever is usually a benign syndrome, meaning it is not life-threatening, but it can be severe if the issue happens often for an extended period of time. This illness typically lasts about 6-12 hours, but can last as long as 1-2 days in some serious cases.
It received its name for the way that people typically contract cotton fever: by going to great lengths to consume illicit drugs.

How Do You Get Cotton Fever?

Feeling sick. Sick young women covered with blanket resting at home while sitting on the sofa
When people with substance abuse issues are desperate for a drug, they will do anything to get it. When it comes to people addicted to heroin, for example, users may resort to sucking the substance out of cotton balls. That is where “cotton fever” came to be. However, there are many more reasons that someone may contract cotton fever.
Cotton fever is most common among heroin users who take the drug via injection. Heroin and other drugs such as methamphetamine and hydromorphone are the main contributors to cotton fever. However, the direct causes are still not entirely clear.

Side Effects of Cotton Fever

The side effects of cotton fever are similar to those of cellulitis, endocarditis, and the flu/pneumonia. These symptoms can occur anywhere from 15-30 minutes after using a drug.
Symptoms of cotton fever may include:
  • Stomach pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • nausea/vomiting
  • Mild distress
  • Muscle aches
These side effects can range from mild to serious. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to diagnose cotton fever because of its symptoms’ similarities to those of other illnesses or disorders.

How to Treat Cotton Fever

If cotton fever is not caught in time, it may lead to hospitalization. If you experience any of the above symptoms after using a drug such as heroin, it’s recommended to call a doctor or hospital as soon as possible.
Treatment methods for cotton fever may include detox management, blood tests and bloodwork, over-the-counter medications, and therapy. But of course, it’s better to prevent cotton fever before it happens as opposed to treating it after it starts.

Preventing Cotton Fever

Obviously, the most effective way to prevent contracting cotton fever is to not inject drugs in your veins. If you have a dependence on heroin, meth, or similar drugs, you are encouraged to contact a rehab facility to undergo treatment as soon as possible. Rehabilitation treatment will not only help ease the symptoms of withdrawal, but it will help provide you with the tools you need to begin a successful recovery process.
If you have used heroin in the past or are currently struggling with substance abuse, there are many disorders and illnesses that you may be susceptible to. Cotton fever, unfortunately, is not the only physical issue that can occur after heroin abuse. Therefore, those who have used heroin are encouraged to seek treatment as soon as possible. To learn more about the dangers of heroin, including cotton fever, and to inquire about treatment, contact our team of substance abuse professionals by calling 267.209.7313.


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