Compare dexamethasone vs. Cortef

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

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Decadron (dexamethasone)

Prescription only

Cortef (Hydrocortisone)

Prescription only
Calms down your immune system.

Decadron (dexamethasone) is a long-acting oral corticosteroid that is very effective in treating allergic reactions and immune conditions, however, if you're taking Decadron (dexamethasone) for a long time, there can be serious side effects.

Cortef (Hydrocortisone) lowers inflammation, suppresses the immune system, and replaces low cortisol.

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

Upsides
  • Effective in treating many conditions.
  • Can improve energy and appetite.
  • Can control immune responses that are causing you discomfort and works quickly to relieve symptoms like swelling, rash, asthma attacks, and pain.
  • Has long-term benefit in calming down the immune system and keeping it from causing your body harm, such as in autoimmune conditions.
  • Available in generic form.
  • 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
  • Many side effects, particularly with long term use.
  • Side effects include mood changes, trouble sleeping and increase in blood pressure and blood sugar at higher doses.
  • Long-term use can cause problems with skin, bone, eye health and put you at a higher risk for infections.
  • If you've been using corticosteroids for more than 2 weeks, you will need to work with a doctor to get off the medicine slowly.
  • Limited studies conducted with use of steroids during pregnancy or breastfeeding - potential harm to unborn baby.
  • 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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Used for
  • Allergies
  • Skin Conditions
  • Endocrine Conditions
  • Eye Conditions
  • Stomach Conditions
  • Respiratory disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis flare
  • Hematologic Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune and Rheumatic Conditions
  • Immune thrombocytopenia
  • Acute mountain sickness
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Prevention of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Suppository
Price
No pricing information available
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Reviews
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Side effects
The Decadron (dexamethasone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Cortef (Hydrocortisone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Lowered adrenal function
    • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
    • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
  • Increased risk for infections
    • Taking other immunosuppressants
    • Long-term treatment
    • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
    • Contact with people who have viral illness
    • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Changes in heart and kidney function
    • Recent heart attack
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
    • History of stomach bleeding
    • Active or history of stomach ulcers
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Taking Decadron (dexamethasone) with other medicine that can cause stomach problems
  • Bone effects
    • Dose of Decadron (dexamethasone)
    • Duration of treatment
  • Eye problems
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Adrenal suppression (HPA axis suppression)
    • Lowering dose or stopping too quickly especially after long-term treatment
    • Stress such as trauma, surgery or infection
  • Increased risk for infections
    • Long-term treatment
    • Not vaccinated against viral diseases
    • Contact with people who have viral illness
    • History of bacterial or viral conditions
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
    • Duration of treatment
  • Psychiatric changes
    • History of psychiatric conditions
  • Bone effects
    • Dose of Cortef (Hydrocortisone)
    • Duration of treatment
  • Harm to fetus
    • Women of childbearing age
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
    • History of stomach bleeding
    • Active or history of stomach or duodenal ulcers
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Taking Cortef (Hydrocortisone) with other medicine that can cause stomach problems
See more detailed risks and warnings