Cortisone | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

cortisone, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Cortone (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
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Highlights for cortisone

Oral tablet
1

Cortisone is an oral drug used to treat a variety of conditions. These can include adrenocortical insufficiency, arthritis, allergic states, and ulcerative colitis. It’s also used to treat anemia, lupus, and skin conditions, including severe psoriasis.

2

This drug comes as a tablet you take by mouth.

3

Cortisone is only available as a generic drug.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Chickenpox and measles

This drug can weaken your body’s ability to fight infections. Stay away from people who have chickenpox or measles, especially if you haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t had these diseases before. Call your doctor right away if you have contact with someone who is infected while you’re taking this drug.

Infections

You shouldn’t take this drug if you have an infection. These include fungal, bacterial, or viral infections. Cortisone can weaken your body’s response to infections. This means that your infection may be severe or even fatal (cause death). This drug can also cover up symptoms of infection. If you have any signs of infection, call your doctor right away.

What is cortisone?

Cortisone is prescription drug. It’s comes as an oral tablet.

Cortisone is only available as a generic drug.

Why it's used

Cortisone helps to decrease inflammation and immune responses. It can also be used as replacement therapy for certain hormones.

This drug is used to treat adrenocortical insufficiency, arthritis, allergic states, and ulcerative colitis. It’s also used to treat anemia, lupus, and skin conditions, including severe psoriasis. This medication may also be used to treat other conditions.

How it works

Cortisone belongs to a class of drugs called glucocorticoids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Cortisone is a steroid drug. It helps decrease swelling in your body. It also stops your body’s response to different stimuli.

This drug works by stopping the release of molecules that cause inflammation. This also stops your body from having an immune response.

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cortisone Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of cortisone can include:

  • confusion

  • excitement

  • restlessness

  • headache

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • skin problems, including:

    • acne 
    • thin skin
    • heavy sweating
    • redness
  • trouble sleeping

  • weight gain

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following: 

  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:

    • skin rash
    • itching
    • hives
    • swelling of your face, lips, or tongue
  • Fluid and electrolyte problems. These can include:

    • fluid retention
    • heart failure, with symptoms such as:
      • shortness of breath
      • fast heart rate
      • swelling of your arms and legs
    • high blood pressure
  • Muscle problems. Symptoms can include:

    • muscle weakness
    • broken bones in your spine
    • osteoporosis
    • tendon rupture
  • Stomach problems. These can include:

    • peptic ulcer, with symptoms such as:
      • upper stomach pain
      • black, tarry stools
    • pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), with symptoms such as:
      • upper stomach pain
      • nausea
      • vomiting
  • Slowed growth in children

  • Glaucoma. Symptoms can include:

    • blurry vision
    • double vision
    • eye pain
  • Convulsions

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Cortisone doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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cortisone May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Cortisone can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with cortisone

Do not take these drugs with cortisone. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in your body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Live vaccines
    • You shouldn’t receive live vaccines while taking cortisone. These include the live flu vaccine and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. If you receive a live vaccine, your body might not be able to build up resistance to the virus in the vaccine. The virus can spread in your body and cause side effects. 
  • Mifepristone
    • This drug can keep cortisone from working to treat your condition.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Cortisone warnings
Infection
People with infections

Don’t take this drug if you have a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection. Cortisone can weaken your body’s response to infections. This can be severe or fatal. The drug can also cover up the symptoms of an infection.

high blood pressure
People with high blood pressure or heart problems

This drug can raise your blood pressure. It can also make heart conditions worse.

Diabetes
People with diabetes

Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. Cortisone can increase your blood sugar. You may need to test your blood sugar level more often. Your doctor may also change the dosage of your diabetes drugs.

Eye Problems
People with glaucoma or eye problems

This drug increases your risk of eye infections. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

stomach problems
People with stomach or intestinal problems

This drug can irritate your stomach and intestines. This can make your condition worse. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

liver problems
People with liver problems

Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. It may make your liver problems worse.

kidney problems
People with kidney problems

Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. It may make your kidney problems worse.

seizures
People with seizures

Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. It may make your condition worse.

psychiatric and mood disorders
People with psychiatric and mood disorders

Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. It may make your condition worse.

Pregnancy Class Warning
Pregnant women

Cortisone is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should only be used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

Women Who Are Breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. These side effects include slowed growth and development.

Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

Children
For children

It has not been confirmed that cortisone is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

Allergies
Allergies

Cortisone can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • skin rash
  • itching or hives
  • swelling of your face, lips, or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you‘ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take cortisone (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Adrenocortical insufficiency

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Arthritis

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Skin problems

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Ulcerative colitis

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Allergic states

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Anemia

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Lupus

Generic: cortisone

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

25–300 mg taken once per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage depending on your condition.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Cortisone has not been confirmed as safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Cortisone comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking this drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

You may have withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking this drug suddenly. If you need to stop taking it, your doctor will slowly reduce your dosage over time. If you don’t take this drug at all, your condition won’t be treated and may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep) 
  • nervousness
  • increased appetite
  • indigestion

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. 

What to do if you miss a dose

Take it as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, call your doctor or pharmacist. You might need to miss a dose or take an extra dose depending on the condition you’re treating. Don’t take an extra dose without checking with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to tell if the drug is working

You should have fewer symptoms and decreased inflammation.

Cortisone is used for both short-term and long-term treatment.

The length of your treatment will depend on your condition. 

Important considerations for taking cortisone
take with food
Take cortisone with food and a glass of water. This may help reduce upset stomach
timing
Take this drug in the morning
crush the tablet
You can cut or crush the oral tablet
storage
Store this drug carefully
See Details
Refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
Travel
Travel
See Details
Clinical Monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
Diet Considerations
Your diet
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead

Store this drug carefully

  • Store cortisone at room temperature. Keep it between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues during your treatment. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include: 

  • blood pressure levels
  • blood sugar levels (if you have diabetes)
  • potassium levels

Your diet

This drug may cause you to retain salt and water. It may also affect your potassium levels. Your doctor may tell you to take potassium supplements or reduce how much salt you eat.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does cortisone Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for cortisone

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for cortisone on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on February 12, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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