Thread: What is cotton fever?

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    What is cotton fever? 
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Los Angeles
    Hi, everyone.

    Can anyone explain what cotton fever is , how you get it and how to
    get rid of it.

    Also, does anyone know what parachuting is?

    Thanks in advance,


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    Cotton fever can be caused by injecting anything that has been filtered through cotton. It is thought to be caused by a bacteria from the cotton plant itself. But, I've also heard of people getting cotton fever without having using a cotton filter. There are a couple of theories, but I don't think anyone knows for sure what causes it.

    The only way I can describe it is being like the worst heroin withdrawals I've ever experienced, and sometimes worse. There is no way to get rid of it, you just have to get through it. I've had cotton fever a couple of times, and it has always run its course within 4-6 hours, but a friend of mine has experienced cotton fever that lasted a full day.

    And parachuting can be used to make instant and extended release pills kick in faster. You crush up a pill to increase its surface area or empty out a capsule so you don't have to wait for it to dissolve. It is called parachuting because a lot of people will wrap the crushed product in a little piece of tissue.

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    OP 2 answer your title Cotton fever is TRASH!!

    Cotton Fever

    Cotton fever is a risk that IV drug users face, but which they worry about far too much. I say this because although it is painful, it is not terribly dangerous--there are better things to worry about. The reason for all the interest seems to be that no one can get a straight answer about what it is.
    Cotton harvesting machine. Different Definitions

    Just about every information source provides a slightly different cause for this ailment. The Whitehouse Drug Policy's Street Drug Glossary, for example, defines cotton fever as, "Critically high temperature associated with accidentally injecting cotton fibers into the blood stream." Other proposed causes include "dirt in Mexican heroin" and fiberglass in cigarette filters. The connection between almost all the explanations is that cotton fever is caused by some kind of particulate matter that is injected into the blood stream. This is not really true.

    There are a lot of different unintended things that happen to IV drugs users: hitting arteries and nerves, abscesses, blood clots. Cotton fever has specific symptoms that differentiate it from other ailments: fever, chills, and shortness of breath. In Europe, cotton fever is commonly called "the shakes"--a reference to another common symptom of cotton fever. Those with this ailment often experience violent shaking or shivering.

    These symptoms normally occur immediately following an injection, but there are reports of lags up to an hour in length.

    Under most circumstances, cotton fever is relatively benign. It is possible for it to turn into something more serious such as pneumonia; the user should watch for this, and seek medical attention if the fever does not go away. Normally however, the symptoms disappear after a couple of hours or less.
    The Cause of Cotton Fever

    Cotton plants are heavily colonized by a strain of bacteria known as E. Agglomerans. This bacterium causes mischief in the pulmonary system of the body which results in the symptoms of cotton fever. This was first noted in the early 1940s with farm workers who breathed in large quantities of unprocessed cotton.

    Most injection drug users utilize small pieces of cotton to filter particulate matter from their drug solution before they inject. It is possible for this to introduce small amounts of E. Agglomerans into the solution. When it is administered intravenously, this small quantity of bacteria can be enough to cause cotton fever.

    It is commonly believed that it is something about the solid state of the material (cotton or other) that causes the effects of the fever. This is not so; it is the bacteria found in the cotton. It is certainly true, however, that injecting a cotton fiber which will be broken down in the blood stream is a good way to deliver large amounts of the bacteria into the blood stream.
    Avoiding Cotton Fever

    It is impossible to completely avoid cotton fever except by not using cotton to filter drug solutions. This should not be used as an excuse to avoid filtering your solution--or for using a poor substitute. In most cases, cotton is the best thing to use for this purpose. Cotton fever is a fairly minor ailment, whereas the particulate matter filtered by the cotton can be deadly.

    To minimize the risk of cotton fever, boil the cotton before it is used for filtration. This should kill the bacteria that cause this ailment. But this is no guarantee. Bacteria can be hard to kill.

    In addition to boiling your cotton, make sure that you do not re-use your cotton. There are many reasons to avoid this practice, and only one is to avoid cotton fever. Old cottons break down, making it more likely that a fiber will be drawn into your syringe.

    The main thing to remember about cotton fever is that under most circumstances, it is not very harmful. So take what precautions you can, and learn to live with the remaining risk.
    Dealing with Cotton Fever

    If the fever persists, it should be treated with antibiotics. But this is rarely necessary. In most instances it is best to simply let the fever run its course. You can almost assure that cotton fever will have a minor effect on your body by keeping yourself in shape. Make sure that you eat regularly, get a little exercise, and take vitamins. This will also help you fight off any other ailments resulting from your drug use.

    If you are really interested in this subject, you might start by reading the following articles. Be advised, however, these are scientific papers, written for scientists trained in biology and medicine. They are tough reading--almost requiring reference to Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary a few times per sentence. The first article is a little more readable than the second.

    D. W. Harrison and R. M. Walls, "'Cotton Fever': a benign febrile syndrome in intravenous drug abusers [sic.]", Journal of Emergency Medicine, March-April 1990, pp. 135-139
    R. Ferguson, C. Feeney, and V. A. Chirurgi, "Enterobacter agglomerans--associated with cotton fever", Archives of Internal Medicine, October 25, 1993, pp. 2381-2382.

    by Dr. H © 2001
    Last Modified: 10 January 2004
    source google = your good friend

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    Bluelighter Medic11's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Gawd...the one time I got it I was shaking so badly I couldn't even speak or hold onto a cigarette. Cotton fever SUCKS.

    I second the opine that if your fever persists beyond a day get medical attention immediately. Bacterial infections can run the gamut from relatively benign to fatal. I have seen patients unconscious and near death from bacterial sepsis.

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    Greenlighter Scoobasteveo8's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    Wash D.C.
    I have had cotton fever around 4-5 times, and not even realizing what exactly the problem was. The shakes are the worst. Bad news is I literally just booted up 5 cottons because of the WD, and NOW I decide to THINK and research tread I could find about any details. Ultimately, in about 30 minutes, I am going to be shaking my a$$ off in my bed tossing and turning for the average 1-2 hours. Ughh, how dumb can I be? never again...things people do when they're desperate, I'm not being me!

    ...I can already feel the tingling in my hands and a slight chill

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    What is cotton fever? 
    SWIM had 5 bouts with what he calls the 4 hour flu due to its uncanny ability to imitate the symptoms of the flu IE: chattering of teeth, shaking, chills, sweats and intense migraines. SWIM is glad that Dr. Harrison and Walls have helped shed some light on this intolerable phenomenon. SWIM felt that it was the most (and only) informative study seen on what many have dealt with, even in the most cleanly scenarios. SWIM tended to have "Fevers" in the
    1 Spring and Summertime, 2 while using off brand cotton ear cleaners 3 cottons that were repeatedly used or kept in unclean conditions.
    The warmer weather creates higher counts of bacteria creating "Cotton Fever."
    The warmth breaks down certain binders in the cotton (especially off brand) releasing higher amounts of harmful contaminants and or pesticides (which are excessively used while manufacturing cotton.)

    Were other experiences mostly during the Spring or Summer like SWIMs?

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    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Inside of a heart-shaped box
    Please do not use swim here at Bluelight. You will get a better answer if you change your post to take credit for the subject you are talking about

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    The Dark Side
    MrRoot's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
    Why are you swimming? This is not a pool btw

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    Cotton fever is caused by reusing a cotton after it's had time to grow a shitload bacteria. It is very quick, very intense, and usually lasts 6-8 hours. I had it once after reusing a spoon and cotton for morphine. Oddly I had done this hundreds of times with meth without this problem. Perhaps meth is to caustic for bacteria?

    Edit-I am certainly not suggesting people reuse cottons when shooting meth, just reporting my experience.

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    The article by Dr. H suggests boiling the cotton - just like to say that microwaving has been shown to be better at killing salmonella on wet sponges than boiling. 2 mins was good, 4 mins very, very good.

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    ^Or just wash the spoon as soon as your're done so you get neither cotton fever or busted with a dirty spoon. If you're really worried there's enough drug on there to matter i guess you could lick it first.

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    you have to wait it out. its like sweating your ass off really warm and uncomfortably high after shooting up dope that has cotton on it from being pulled through or like just using old cottons is the best way to get it. Its GROSSSSSSSSSSS NEVER USE OLD COTTONS!!!!!!!!!

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    ugh cotton fever... I had almost forgot the feeling.. that was until I read this thread.

    Like for so many others I caught it a couple of times when I re-used old cottonfilters.
    What I used to do was pop a couple of Paracetamol/Acetaminophen for the chills, fever, headache and muscle aches and just wrap myself in a sheet and wait it out.
    (And maybe do another shot and hope for the best)

    I think if you by accident get the tiniest bit of tobacco in your solution it can cause cotton fever. Atleast that is what I heard all the time.
    And a friend had happen to him, I don't know if was the tobacco that landed in the solution or a coincident.

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    Bluelight Crew paranoid android's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Talamh an √Čisc
    I had cotton fever twice in one fucking day . It was from using unsterile water as i had just run out of sterile water so i resorted to tap water. I only boiled mine for maybe 5 minutes and about half a hour latter i knew something was very wrong. I started shivering like i had the goddamn DT's and i had symptoms that where far worse then any opiate WD i have experienced. I got so bad i crawled into bed with sweat pants, a t-shirt, a hoodie and a winter cap on over me head to try and keep me warm. All this but the blankets did nothing to stop the violent shivering and i thought i was going to die or have a seizure.

    My g/f kept bringing me hot green tea, clonazepam, acetaminophen and cranberry juice. She had a vague theory that flushing your system out with alot of fluids should help a bit. It might have worked because the fever only lasted maybe 4 hours as opposed to days for some people. So i got lucky but what a awful experience one of the worst Ive had for sure

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    Bluelight Crew amapola's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    The Great White North
    You can think of cotton fever as a form of septicemia and for the people who get "cotton fever" without using cotton it is pretty much exactly that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkprogramer View Post
    Hi, everyone.

    Can anyone explain what cotton fever is , how you get it and how to
    get rid of it.

    Also, does anyone know what parachuting is?

    Thanks in advance,

    I asked this question once too before as I saw my buddy suffering with the fever. And you'd be surprised how much information a 2 seconds Google search and 5 minute Wikipedia read could provide on the subject.

    Just sayin bro.

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    Bluelighter Violenza666's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    The pits of hell
    Quote Originally Posted by MrRoot View Post
    Why are you swimming? This is not a pool btw
    Lol. Now I want to go swimming.

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    Only Way To "Cure" Cotton Fever 
    Cotton Fever is cause by E. Agglomerans being introduced into the body through injection... about 30 mins after injection you will feel cold chills, start to get a slight head ach, and your muscles and joints will begin to ach. After that your in for hell, high fever, shaking uncontrollably, ect. What SWIM found to be best in treating cotton fever is take Tylenol, aspirin, IB, ect. (not all of them, pick one) what ever you can find to reduce the fever once it starts, once shaking begins SWIM found that jumping in a hot shower for the duration of the shakes will minimize them... Your body is shaking to increase temperature (so your temp is going to go up regardless of how) getting in the shower will reduce shaking! Also if you have anything left, use a clean (NEW<NEW<NEW) needle and spoon... (if you use the same one you'll be putting more E. Agglomerans into your system and it will only make it worse) and shoot atleast the same amount of what you shot when you got sick... SWIM did 2mg Dilautid got cotton fever and then used 4mg dilautid second shot... this will cause you kidneys to flush the E. Agglomerans from you system... you'll immediately start feeling better as well as the second shot getting rid of the head ach, & muscle and joint pains...

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    Hi everyone I'm new here so I don't know my way around and I don't know if this is the right spot to post this question or if my terminology is acceptable I'm just really scared for my friend and I need to get information fast, I apologize in advance. My friend called me up today freaking out because after she banged some pills she took a look in her syringe and there was mold inside of it and on the plunger. She had cotton fever yesterday and thought it was because of the cotton, she used the same rig today and now thinks it was because of whatever was growing in there. Her symptoms don't hit until up to 12 hours after hitting up so it makes me wonder if what she is experiencing is even cotton fever at all. We are both worried though because bacteria can be very dangerous and do heart valve damage and involve hospital visits which might include how she would acquire a bacterial infection in her blood. So far it's been 10.5 hours without any symptoms. I gave her some amoxicillin and tylenol in case of a headache but I don't know what else there is to do except wait it out and see what happens. If anyone has any experience with seeing mold in a syringe or the huge time lapse before having symptoms or words of wisdom or encouragement would be greatly appreciated. She and I are really scared and have alot of anxiety. HELP!!!!! please

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    Bluelight Crew effie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Hi there, welcome to BL!

    There are a few things that can happen if you introduce bacteria into your bloodstream - your body can fight them off (sometimes not giving any symptoms, sometimes giving the symptoms of cotton fever), or you can develop septicaemia (blood poisoning) and become very unwell pretty fast, or as you mentioned the bacteria can stick to your heart valves (infective endocarditis) and damage them. The latter happens gradually so you wouldn't notice any symptoms for a while, and when you do they can be quite non-specific unless doctors know what they are looking for.

    I understand what you were trying to do, but giving a random antibiotic is never a good idea - different antibiotics kill different bacteria and work best for different sorts of infection so it may well not work, and misuse of antibiotics can lead to multi-drug resistant bacterial infections which can be very difficult to treat. You should always seek medical advice and often doctors will want to take cultures before they start you on antibiotics to make sure you receive the correct one.

    Your friend is still potentially at risk of developing septicaemia, it can take a few days to become serious (although it can happen fast too) so I strongly advise her to get checked over by a doctor. If she regularly uses old syringes then she is definitely also at risk for infective endocarditis so she should let her doctor know that she is concerned about that too, and they can check her out and let her know the symptoms to look out for.

    Syringes should always be single-use - as soon as they are out of their packet they are no longer sterile and the longer they are kept the more bacterial (and mould) growth can occur. Also, the needle becomes blunt very quickly and causes trauma to the veins and surrounding tissues. Your friend should also get hold of some micron filters if she doesn't already - they help keep things as sterile as possible (although not of the syringe itself is dirty) and most importantly when shooting pills, they stop fillers/binders such as talc from entering the bloodstream and causing an irreversible lung disease called pneumoconiosis/talcosis.

    Your friend should definitely seek medical advice and get checked out ASAP.

    Good luck!

    Related reading:

    IV complications megathread
    Micron filtering megathread

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    Bluelighter nsauce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Weird, after doing several shots of H a day for like 8 years, often re-using cottons, I never once had cotton fever. I was aware of it, and during the time I was using H daily, was under the impression that it was caused by a cotton fiber, so after pulling up, I would always hold my point to the light and look for any fibers on the needle. Occasionally I would see one and get it off before injecting. Never did catch cotton fever, thankfully, I had seen friends with it and it did NOT look like fun .

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    Bluelight Crew NeighborhoodThreat's Avatar
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    May 2009
    I recommend checking out the links effie provided above

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    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Without repeating what has already been said, IV drug use and cotton fever can be very dangerous and fatal due to contaminates from the needle, skin, syringe, cotton, or the drug itself. I once met an IV drug user who needed surgery due to an infected heart valve from injecting. Moral of the story: be careful.

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    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Upstate NY. Albany area
    Ive never had cotton fever from shooting dope, but my first opurtunity to shoot an opana ir i got it. i used a new cotton to filter but boy was i hurting. i was lying under my blankets with a heating pad on my chest and was shivering shaking so violently i was shaking my bed. the worst of it only lasted a few hours, but the headache and body ache lingered for a while. i was so excited about finally finding an IR opana to shoot rather than the ER's that i usually come accross, but the cotton fever was so bad i just traded the rest of the opanas i had for dope. after making it thru that i thought to myself normal wd's arnt shit compared to that and i should be able to function next time i ran out.... it was brutal

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    Bluelight Crew effie's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    Hi there, welcome to BDD and thank you for your comment

    There is a lot of info on cotton fever in this thread, and it is quite old now so I am going to close it - pm me with any queries.

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