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Hydrocortisone Prescription
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Generic Name: hydrocortisone (oral) (HYE droe KOR ti sone)
Brand Name: Cortef
Physician reviewed hydrocortisone (oral) patient information - includes hydrocortisone description, dosage and directions. Average Savings for hydrocortisone (generic): 34.29%
Generic Name: hydrocortisone (oral) (HYE droe KOR ti sone)
Brand Name: Cortef
Physician reviewed hydrocortisone (oral) patient information - includes hydrocortisone description, dosage and directions. Average Savings for hydrocortisone (generic): 34.29%
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30 tablets of Hydrocortisone 40 mg
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Hydrocortisone Drug Information:

Hydrocortisone is a steroid medicine that is used in the treatment of many different conditions, including allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or lung disorders. Hydrocortisone is also used to replace steroids in people with adrenal insufficiency (decreased production of natural steroids by the adrenal glands). Hydrocortisone affects your immune system and is often used to treat certain blood cell disorders such as anemia (low red blood cells) or thrombocytopenia (low platelets). Learn more

Hydrocortisone Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to hydrocortisone: oral tablet

Other dosage forms:

  • injection powder for solution, injection solution

Along with its needed effects, hydrocortisone may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking hydrocortisone:

More common

  • Aggression
  • anxiety
  • blurred vision
  • decrease in the amount of urine
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • headache
  • irregular heartbeats
  • irritability
  • mental depression
  • mood changes
  • nervousness
  • noisy, rattling breathing
  • numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • pounding in the ears
  • restlessness
  • shaking
  • swelling of the fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs
  • trouble thinking, speaking, or walking
  • trouble breathing
  • troubled breathing at rest
  • trouble sleeping
  • weight gain

Incidence not known

  • Abdominal or stomach cramping and/or burning (severe)
  • abdominal or stomach pain
  • backache
  • bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • cough or hoarseness
  • darkening of the skin
  • decrease in height
  • decreased vision
  • diarrhea
  • eye pain
  • eye tearing
  • facial hair growth in females
  • fainting
  • fever or chills
  • flushed, dry skin
  • fractures
  • fruit-like breath odor
  • full or round face, neck, or trunk
  • heartburn or indigestion (severe and continuous)
  • increased hunger
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of sexual desire or ability
  • lower back or side pain
  • menstrual irregularities
  • muscle pain or tenderness
  • muscle wasting or weakness
  • nausea
  • pain in the back, ribs, arms, or legs
  • painful or difficult urination
  • skin rash
  • sweating
  • trouble healing
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vision changes
  • vomiting
  • vomiting of material that looks like coffee grounds

Some side effects of hydrocortisone may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Increased appetite

Incidence not known

  • Abnormal fat deposits on the face, neck, and trunk
  • acne
  • dry scalp
  • lightening of normal skin color
  • red face
  • reddish purple lines on the arms, face, legs, trunk, or groin
  • swelling of the stomach area
  • thinning of the scalp hair

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to hydrocortisone: compounding powder, injectable powder for injection, injectable solution, injectable suspension, oral suspension, oral tablet, rectal foam with applicator, rectal suspension


Corticosteroid side effects/complications are primarily dose and duration dependent; adverse effects are infrequent with physiologic or lower pharmacologic dosages. Short-term effects have included sodium retention-related weight gain and fluid accumulation, hyperglycemia/glucose intolerance, hypokalemia, and psychic disturbances. Long-term effects have included hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal activity suppression, Cushingoid appearance, hirsutism, impotence, menstrual irregularities, peptic ulcer disease, cataracts and increased intraocular pressure/glaucoma, myopathy, osteoporosis, and vertebral compression fractures.


Frequency not reported: Bradycardia, cardiac arrest, cardia arrhythmias, cardiac enlargement, circulatory collapse, fat embolism, hypertension, congestive heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in premature infants, myocardial rupture following recent myocardial infarction, thrombophlebitis, vasculitis, syncope, tachycardia, thromboembolism, thrombophlebitis, vasculitis, necrotising angiitis


Frequency not reported: Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal activity has been suppressed up to 12 months following long-term corticosteroid administration, Cushingoid appearance with chronic therapy, hirsutism, virilism, impotence, menstrual irregularities, hypertrichosis, moon face, latent hyperparathyroidism, hypoparathyroidism

An antagonism occurs between the parathyroids and hypercorticism. Latent hyperparathyroidism may be unmasked by administration of corticosteroids; hypoparathyroidism may be manifest by phosphate retention occurring in renal failure caused by adrenal insufficiency.


Frequency not reported: Gastrointestinal upset, nausea, vomiting, peptic ulcer disease, pancreatitis, ulcerative esophagitis, abdominal distention, gastrointestinal perforation and hemorrhage, esophageal candidiasis


Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Hypernatremia

Frequency not reported: Decreased glucose tolerance, hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, fluid retention, negative nitrogen balance due to protein catabolism, increased blood urea nitrogen concentration, sodium retention, hypokalemic alkalosis, increased appetite, weight gain, hypertriglyceridemia


Aseptic necrosis has been reported most often to affect the femoral head. Corticosteroid myopathy has presented as weakness and wasting of the proximal limb and girdle muscles and generally has been reversible following cessation of therapy.

Corticosteroids inhibit intestinal absorption and increase urinary excretion of calcium leading to bone resorption and bone loss. Postmenopausal females are at risk of loss of bone density. Sixteen percent of elderly patients treated with corticosteroids for 5 years may experience vertebral compression fractures.

Frequency not reported: Steroid myopathy, muscle weakness, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures, tendon rupture (particularly the Achilles tendon), aseptic necrosis of bone, growth suppression in pediatric patients, Charcot-like arthropathy, post-injection flare (intra-articular use), osteonecrosis


Frequency not reported: Impairment in cell-mediated immunity, increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections, immunosuppression, opportunistic infections from mild to fatal, reactivation of tuberculosis


Increases in serum transaminases and alkaline phosphatase have been observed with corticosteroid therapy; these laboratory changes are generally small, not associated with clinical symptoms, and are reversible upon discontinuation.

Frequency not reported: Reversible increases in serum transaminase and alkaline phosphatase concentrations, hepatomegaly


Corticosteroid therapy has been associated with a total increase in WBC; with an increase in neutrophils and a decrease in monocytes, lymphocytes, and eosinophils.

Frequency not reported: Leukocytosis


Frequency not reported: Increased ease in bruising, ecchymosis, petechiae, delayed wound healing, acne, thin fragile skin, facial erythema, increased sweating, suppress reaction to skin testing, allergic dermatitis, burning or tingling in the perineal area after IV injection, cutaneous and subcutaneous atrophy, edema, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, erythema, sterile abscess, striae, thinning scalp hair, urticaria


Frequency not reported: Increased intraocular pressure, glaucoma, posterior subcapsular cataracts, exophthalmos, central serous chorioretinopathy, corneal or scleral thinning, exacerbation of ophthalmic viral disease


In adults, the incidence of severe psychic reactions has been estimated to be around 5% to 6%. Psychological effects have been reported on withdrawal of corticosteroids, although the incidence is unknown.

Frequency not reported: Psychoses, personality or behavioral changes, depression, emotional instability, euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, psychic disorders, exacerbation of preexisting affect lability or psychotic behavior


Case reports of hypersensitivity reactions to corticosteroids have been relatively uncommon. Side effects have included bronchospasm, shock, urticaria, and angioedema. Cross-reactivity between aspirin and hydrocortisone in patients with aspirin-sensitive respiratory disease has been suggested as the mechanism in patients with asthma, however data are controversial. Anaphylaxis has been most frequently associated with rapid injection or infusion of a high dose of corticosteroid. Reactions may be mediated by an immune or nonimmune mechanism.

Bronchospasm after intravenous hydrocortisone has been reported in some patients with aspirin-sensitive respiratory disease. A challenge study with oral aspirin followed with 100 mg hydrocortisone (IV) resulted in respiratory reactions to aspirin in 45 of 53 patients. These 45 patients then received a hydrocortisone challenge. No naso-ocular, dermal, or respiratory reactions were noted in 44 of 45 patients administered hydrocortisone. One aspirin-sensitive patient experienced bronchospasm and naso-ocular reactions to hydrocortisone and naso-ocular with minimal bronchospasm with methylprednisolone. Following aspirin desensitization and while on maintenance aspirin therapy, this patient again reacted with similar symptoms to hydrocortisone.

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Hypersensitivity reaction (enema)

Frequency not reported: Anaphylaxis, anaphylactoid reaction, angioedema


Frequency not reported: Vertigo, abnormal fat deposits, malaise


Frequency not reported: Glycosuria, increased or decreased motility and number of spermatozoa

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Convulsions, increased intracranial pressure with papilledema/pseudo-tumor cerebri (usually occurs after treatment), headache, neuritis, neuropathy, paresthesia, arachnoiditis, meningitis, paraparesis/paraplegia, sensory disturbances, epidural lipomatosis

Paresthesia, arachnoiditis, meningitis, paraparesis/paraplegia, and sensory disturbances have occurred after intrathecal administration. Intrathecal use is contraindicated and epidural administration is not recommended due to the occurrence of serious adverse events having been associated with these routes of administration.


Frequency not reported: Kaposi's sarcoma


Frequency not reported: Pulmonary edema, hiccups

Editorial References and Review

Medically reviewed by USARx EDITORIAL TEAM Last updated on 1/3/2022.

Source: Drugs.com Hydrocortisone (www.drugs.com/mtm/hydrocortisone.html).