Cortisone: Uses & Side Effects

Cortisone is a steroid that prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. Cortisone is used to treat many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

How should I take cortisone?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.

Your dosage needs may change if you have surgery, are ill, are under stress, or have a fever or infection. Do not change your medication dose or schedule without your doctor’s advice. Tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.

This medication can cause unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using cortisone.

Do not stop using cortisone suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication.

Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you take cortisone. Any medical care provider who treats you should know that you take steroid medication.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Precautions

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to cortisone, or if you have a fungal infection anywhere in your body.

Steroid medication can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to get an infection. Steroids can also worsen an infection you already have, or reactivate an infection you recently had. Before taking this medication, tell your doctor about any illness or infection you have had within the past several weeks.

To make sure you can safely take cortisone, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver disease (such as cirrhosis);
  • kidney disease;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • diabetes;
  • a history of malaria;
  • tuberculosis;
  • osteoporosis;
  • a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis;
  • glaucoma or cataracts;
  • herpes infection of the eyes;
  • stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis;
  • depression or mental illness;
  • congestive heart failure;
  • high blood pressure.

It is not known whether cortisone will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

Cortisone can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using cortisone.

Steroids can affect growth in children. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medication.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • problems with your vision;
  • swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;
  • severe depression, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure (convulsions);
  • bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood;
  • pancreatitis (severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate);
  • low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling);
  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • sleep problems (insomnia), mood changes;
  • acne, dry skin, thinning skin, bruising or discoloration;
  • slow wound healing;
  • increased sweating;
  • headache, dizziness, spinning sensation;
  • nausea, stomach pain, bloating;
  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

Interactions

Many drugs can interact with cortisone. Below is just a partial list. Tell your doctor if you are using:

  • aspirin (taken on a daily basis or at high doses);
  • a diuretic (water pill);
  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
  • cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune);
  • insulin or diabetes medications you take by mouth;
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral);
  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane);
  • seizure medications such as phenytoin (Dilantin) or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton).

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Keywords: cortisone; steroid.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.