Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Cortef

(Hydrocortisone)

Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available
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  • Liquid
  • Suppository
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Cortef (Hydrocortisone) lowers inflammation, suppresses the immune system, and replaces low cortisol.

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Our bottom line

Cortef (Hydrocortisone) is identical to an essential hormone that humans produce and has been proven to work safely.

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Upsides

  • Normal doses of hydrocortisone have been safely and successfully used for over 60 years. It's especially good for people using it as a long-term cortisol supplement.
  • Cortef (Hydrocortisone) converts into cortisol, a natural hormone, which will not interfere with other medications you may be taking.
  • Taking a dose of Cortef (Hydrocortisone) in the evening doesn't affect your ability to sleep.
  • At safe doses, Cortef (Hydrocortisone) can actually increase your body's ability to fight infection.

Downsides

  • In the first few weeks, your doctor might adjust the dose of Cortef (Hydrocortisone) multiple times.
  • You may be at an increased risk of infection if you take high doses of Cortef (Hydrocortisone), or if you take it in combination with other immunosuppressive medications.
  • Your body could stop making its own cortisol once it gets used to Cortef (Hydrocortisone). If so, you'll likely have to keep taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone) for a really long time.
  • Depending on why your doctor prescribed Cortef (Hydrocortisone) to you, corticosteroids can have different effects on your body.
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Side effect rates for Cortef (Hydrocortisone)

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These are side effects of Cortef (Hydrocortisone) reported to the FDA by people taking it, and by doctors and pharmacists.
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Risks and Warnings for Cortef (Hydrocortisone)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
    • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection

    Adrenal suppression leading to adrenal crisis can occur if you lower your dose or stop taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone) too quickly. Symptoms include joint or muscle pain, extreme low energy and depression. Changes in your Cortef (Hydrocortisone) dose need to be done slowly over time. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes or stop the medication.

Common concerns from people taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone)

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Kidneys and liver
  • Adrenal suppression leading to adrenal crisis can occur if you lower your dose or stop taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone) too quickly. Symptoms include joint or muscle pain, extreme low energy and depression. Changes in your Cortef (Hydrocortisone) dose need to be done slowly over time. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes or stop the medication.
Pain
  • Taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone) increases the risk of injury to the lining of your stomach and intestine including irritation, tears/holes and ulcers. You should avoid alcohol/alcoholic beverages because it can worsen stomach irritation. Tell your doctor or get medical care right away if you have stomach pain, notice blood or dark colored stools when you go to the bathroom.
Weight
  • Some people gain weight while taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone). Using a weight loss program, eating smaller portions, and drinking a glass of water before meals tend to help.