In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for hydrocortisone, trade name CortefTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Hydrocortisone, a corticosteroid, is like a natural chemical your body already produces. It is used to treat a variety of short term and long term inflammation and immune system conditions. These may include breathing problems, allergies, skin diseases, arthritis, blood disorders, swelling, cancer, and others. This medication works by suppressing the body’s normal inflammatory and immune system response.
Hydrocortisone is also used to treat adrenal insufficiency conditions such as Addison’s Disease which leads to low hydrocortisone levels in the body.
This medication is sometimes used to treat other conditions. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you are prescribed this medication to treat something that is not listed here.
If you need to use this medication for a long-term condition, discuss the effects with your doctor or pharmacist, so you understand what to expect.
Hydrocortisone is taken with food and a full glass of water. If your doctor has you taking only one dose per day, take it in the morning after breakfast. Your specific dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to therapy.
Finish your entire course of hydrocortisone. Some conditions might become worse if this medication is stopped quickly. You may feel symptoms such as headache, nausea, tiredness, and weakness. Your doctor will most likely decrease your dose of hydrocortisone gradually over a few days to prevent these symptoms from occurring.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
Warnings & Cautions
- Diabetic warning, this medication may affect your blood sugar. Watch for symptoms of increased blood sugar such as frequent urination and thirst. Watch for symptoms of decreased blood sugar such as dizziness, sweating, hunger and blurred vision. Diabetics check your blood sugar and contact your doctor if you notice changes.
- This medication may weaken your immune system. Do not get any vaccinations while taking this medication without talking to your doctor first. Try to avoid contact with any people who have recently received a live vaccine such as the nasal flu vaccine or the shingles vaccine.
- While taking hydrocortisone, it is important to avoid contact with individuals who have contagious infections and wash your hands often to prevent the spread of an infection.
- If you have been taking hydrocortisone for an extended time, it may be more difficult for your body to respond appropriately to physical stress. Make sure your doctor or dentist is aware of your current hydrocortisone use before having any surgery or dental work performed.
- It is important to know that use of this medication for an extended period of time in children may slow the child’s growth. If your child is prescribed this medication, talk about this with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.
- Infants born to mothers who are taking hydrocortisone may be at risk. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.
- This medication may make you dizzy. Do not drive or perform any activity that requires accurate reflex response until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.
- Drinking alcohol daily while taking hydrocortisone increases the chance for stomach bleeding. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if hydrocortisone is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any current infections, any heart, liver or kidney disease, eye disorders, thyroid disease, any mental or mood disorder, diabetes or any other condition.
- While taking this medication, you may feel some nausea or vomiting, trouble sleeping, possibly some heartburn and maybe some increased sweating. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any swelling in your hands or feet, weight gain, vision problems, symptoms of infection, bloody vomit or stools, mental or mood changes, or severe muscle aches and pains.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.