Cotton fever refers to the transient elevation in temperature within a few minutes after injection of drug filtered through cotton. The term cotton fever was coined in 1975 after the syndrome was recognized in intravenous drug users.
Why Do Drug Users Need Cotton Filters?
Many IV drugs, including heroin, are heated before being drawn into a syringe for injection. Once heated, users can draw the drug through a cotton ball into a syringe as an inexpensive method of filtering the drug to avoid injecting any adulterants which can cause major damage to the circulatory system or even death.
Note – it is considered a gesture of generosity to offer another user your “cotton” because the user will get some small amount of the drug for free. In addition, some users may attempt to extract the drug from previously used cotton when their heroin supply is low.
CF hits a user 15 to 30 minutes after injection and lasts between 12 and 24 hours. Although the condition is self-limiting, it is highly painful and debilitating.
Common symptoms may include:
- fever (typically lasting no longer than 24 hours);
- extreme shakes;
- muscle and bone pain;
The trouble is that this condition shares most of its symptoms with sepsis (also referred to as blood poisoning or septicemia), which is a blood-borne bacterial infection and is substantially more severe than CF.
Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Sepsis is treated with intravenous antibiotics and therapy to support any organ dysfunction.
CF is caused by the bacteria which live in cotton, not by the cotton itself. The bacterium usually found on cotton plants is called Pantoea agglomerans. It wreaks havoc in the respiratory system of the human body that actually causes the symptoms of cotton fever.
Cotton fever may also be caused by the reuse of previously used cotton filters.
Common prevention methods include:
- avoiding the reuse of filters, spoons, and needles of other substance users;
- avoiding the collection and soaking of used cotton filters to extract any residual product.
It is frequently thought that CF is caused by pieces of cotton getting into the bloodstream during injection. This myth is still perpetuated in the community of active addiction.
People presenting with classic history should have blood cultures performed and should be started on a regimen of empiric antibiotic therapy.
Moreover, the most common treatments for fever include OTC medications, like – acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like – naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
Note – if you have a compromised immune system, you should seek a healthcare professional’s care. A compromised immune system is common in people that have cancer, HIV, or autoimmune diseases.
Cure And Home Remedies For Cotton Fever
Natural treatments for cotton fever include:
Drinking Plenty Of Fluids
Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day or enough to make your urine pale.
Note – drinking a lot of water won’t do much to rid the body of any infection.
It helps the body expel heat, which in turn helps reduce fever. In addition, ginger is a natural antibacterial and antiviral agent that helps the immune system fight any type of infection.
Drinking this medicinal herb as a hot tea will help bring down your basal body temperature during times of high fever. Furthermore, it will help you sleep as it is slightly sedative in nature.
Taking A Hot Shower
A hot shower is used by many heroin users to help ease withdrawal symptoms because CF mimics opiate withdrawal. Therefore, taking a hot shower may help mitigate some CF symptoms.
Blackberries reduce the frequency of fever infection and boost up the immune system. Also, they help the body to regain its lost strength and prevent anemia which is caused by high fever.
Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, has an affinity for stimulating the production of new white blood cells and is an excellent remedy to use alongside fever remedies during illness.
Supporting your immune system during a fever is important to help eradicate the harmful bacteria faster.
This medicinal herb opens your pores and triggers the sweating which is said to move a fever toward its end.
To use yarrow tea, steep a tbs of the herb in a cup of boiled water for 10 minutes. Drink the tea until you start sweating.
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV helps reduce a fever quickly thanks to its acid content that helps draw heat out of the skin.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar is high in minerals and helps replenish the lost minerals which get eliminated from the body due to fever.
It is an effective herb for bringing down fever.
To use it, take about 20 basil leaves and boil them. Add 1 tsp of crushed ginger and boil until the solution gets reduced to half. Then add a little honey and drink the tea three times per day.
Cream Of Tartar
It is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate, an acid salt which is most commonly found in kitchens for cooking and baking purposes. Also, it is well known as the tea to treat fever.
Plenty Of Rest
When we rest, in particular when we sleep, our bodies work on healing by restoring and repairing themselves.
In addition, when we rest, the body makes more white blood cells which can attack harmful bacteria and viruses, that is exactly what you want to happen.
Sleeping allows the brain to trigger the release of hormones which encourage new tissue growth. Also, rest helps the human body defend itself.
When To Contact A Doctor
Seek medical help immediately if you have:
- trouble breathing;
- a severe cough;
- a history of serious illness, like heart disease, cancer, AIDS, or diabetes, or if you are taking immunosuppressant drugs;
- back pain;
- pain with urination;
- if you cough up blood;
- if the fever doesn’t respond to fever-reducing medicine;
- shaking chills;
- a persistent earache;
- swelling of the throat;
- a severe sore throat;
- been exposed to extremely hot weather;
- a red streak on an arm or leg;
- skin rashes;
- trouble staying awake;
- a stiff neck;
- severe diarrhea;
- severe stomach pain;
- severe pain in the lower abdomen.