Cortef, Hydrocortone, |hydrocortisone Hydrocortisone

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Generic Name: hydrocortisone (hye droe KOR ti sone)
Brand Names: Cortef, Hydrocortone

What is hydrocortisone?

Hydrocortisone is in a class of drugs called steroids. Hydrocortisone reduces swelling and decreases the body"s immune response.

Hydrocortisone is used to treat many different conditions. It is used to treat endocrine (hormonal) disorders when the body does not produce enough of its own steroids. It is also used to treat many immune and allergic disorders, such as arthritis, lupus, severe psoriasis, severe asthma, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn"s disease.

Hydrocortisone may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about hydrocortisone?

Do not stop taking hydrocortisone suddenly if you have been taking it for a few weeks. You may need a gradual reduction in dosage before you stop taking this medication. Take oral hydrocortisone with food or milk to lessen stomach upset.

Carry some type of medical identification that will let others know you are taking hydrocortisone in the case of an emergency.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking hydrocortisone?

Do not take hydrocortisone if you have a serious bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Hydrocortisone weakens the body"s immune response and thus its ability to fight infection.

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have

  • kidney disease;
  • liver disease;
  • high blood pressure or heart disease;

  • ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, or stomach ulcers;

  • hypothyroidism;

  • a psychiatric condition;

  • osteoporosis;

  • myasthenia gravis;

  • diabetes mellitus; or

  • any other medical conditions.

You may not be able to take hydrocortisone, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Hydrocortisone is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether hydrocortisone will be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. Hydrocortisone passes into breast milk. Do not take hydrocortisone without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take hydrocortisone?

Take hydrocortisone exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Take each oral dose with a full glass of water. Take oral hydrocortisone with food or milk to lessen stomach upset. Shake the suspension well before measuring a dose.

Measure the liquid with the dropper provided or with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup. Ask your pharmacist for a dose-measuring spoon if you do not have one.

Hydrocortisone may also be administered as an injection. Your healthcare provider will administer the injection or will give you detailed instructions regarding how to inject the medication at home.

If you are taking one dose daily, take that dose before 9 a.m. if possible, to follow the body"s natural cycle. If you take more than one dose daily, space the doses evenly throughout the day as directed by your doctor.

Do not stop taking hydrocortisone suddenly if you have been taking it for a few weeks. You may need a gradual reduction in dosage before you stop taking this medication.

Carry some type of medical identification that will let others know you are taking hydrocortisone in the case of an emergency.

Store hydrocortisone at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you take one dose daily, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if you don"t remember until the next day, skip the missed dose and take only the regular daily dose.

If you take more than one dose daily, you can either take the missed dose as soon as you remember, or you can take two doses (the missed dose plus the regularly scheduled dose) when it is time for the next dose.

If you take one dose every other day, take the missed dose as soon as you remember, then go back to your regular every-other-day schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention. A single large dose of this medication is unlikely to cause symptoms or death. An overdose is more likely to be caused by a chronic overdose--large doses taken over a period of time.

Symptoms of an overdose include obesity (especially around the stomach); a round face; increased hair growth (especially around the face); acne; bruising; increased blood pressure; swollen hands, feet, or ankles (fluid retention); and sore or weak muscles.

What should I avoid while taking hydrocortisone?

Use alcohol cautiously. Acting together, alcohol and hydrocortisone can be damaging to the stomach.

Avoid sources of infection. Wash your hands frequently and keep them away from the mouth and eyes. The immune system may be weakened while taking hydrocortisone.

Do not receive any immunizations during treatment with hydrocortisone without first talking to your doctor.

Hydrocortisone side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking hydrocortisone and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

  • increased blood pressure (severe headache or blurred vision); or

  • sudden weight gain (more than 5 pounds in a day or two).

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take hydrocortisone and talk to your doctor if you experience

  • insomnia;

  • nausea, vomiting, or stomach upset;

  • fatigue or dizziness;

  • muscle weakness or joint pain;

  • problems with diabetes control; or

  • increased hunger or thirst.

Other side effects that occur only rarely, usually with high doses or prolonged use of hydrocortisone may include

  • acne;

  • increased hair growth;

  • thinning of the skin,

  • cataracts;

  • glaucoma;

  • osteoporosis;

  • roundness of the face; and

  • changes in behavior.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect hydrocortisone?

Do not take any other over-the-counter or prescription medications, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products, during treatment with hydrocortisone without first talking to your doctor. Many other medicines can interact with hydrocortisone resulting in side effects or altered effectiveness of the medications.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about hydrocortisone written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Hydrocortisone is available with a prescription under the brand name Cortef. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Cortef 5 mg--white, scored tablets

  • Cortef 10 mg--white, scored tablets

  • Cortef 20 mg--white, scored tablets

  • Cortef Suspension 10 mg per 5 mL (1 teaspoon)

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ("Multum") is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum"s drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum"s drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.02. Revision Date: 2/13/04 3:59:23 PM.

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