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Generic Name: hydrocortisone (hye-droe-KOR-ti-sone)
Brand Name: Cortef

Cortef is used for:

Treating severe allergies, arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and skin conditions. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Cortef is a corticosteroid. It works by decreasing or preventing tissues from responding to inflammation. It also modifies the body's response to certain immune stimulation.

Do NOT use Cortef if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Cortef
  • you have a systemic fungal infection
  • you are taking mifepristone

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Asthma: 10 Things You Need To Do To Keep It In Check

Before using Cortef:

Some medical conditions may interact with Cortef. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you are scheduled for a vaccination with a live virus vaccine (eg, smallpox)
  • if you have a history of an underactive thyroid, liver or kidney problems, heart problems or heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation of the esophagus, stomach problems (eg, ulcers), bowel blockage or other bowel problems (eg, ulcerative colitis or gravis), or mental or mood problems (eg, depression)
  • if you have measles, chickenpox, herpes infection of the eye, or any other type of bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or viral infection
  • if you have recently had tuberculosis (TB) or have had a positive skin test for TB

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Cortef. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Aprepitant because it may increase the risk of Cortef's side effects
  • Barbiturates (eg, phenobarbital), carbamazepine, hydantoins (eg, phenytoin), or rifampin because they may decrease Cortef's effectiveness
  • Clarithromycin, azole antifungals (eg, ketoconazole), steroidal contraceptives (eg, desogestrel), or troleandomycin because side effects, such as weakness, confusion, muscle aches, joint pain, or low blood sugar, may occur
  • Methotrexate or ritodrine because their actions and the risk of their side effects may be increased by Cortef
  • Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin), live vaccines, or mifepristone because their effectiveness may be decreased by Cortef
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) or aspirin because the actions and side effects of these medicines may be increased or decreased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Cortef may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Cortef:

Use Cortef as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take Cortef by mouth with or without food. If stomach upset occurs, take with food to reduce stomach irritation.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking Cortef. You may have an increased risk of side effects (eg, seizures). If you need to stop Cortef or add a new medicine, your doctor will gradually lower your dose.
  • If you miss a dose of Cortef, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Cortef.

Important safety information:

  • Cortef may cause dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Cortef with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Cortef may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • If you have not had chickenpox, shingles, or measles, avoid contact with anyone who does. If you are exposed to anyone with chickenpox or measles, contact your doctor right away.
  • Carry an ID card at all times that says you take Cortef.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take Cortef before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Long-term use may cause cataracts, glaucoma, and eye infections. Contact your doctor right away if you develop any unusual changes in your vision.
  • Cortef may cause an increase in blood pressure, salt and water retention, and calcium and potassium loss. Talk with your doctor to see if you need to decrease the amount of salt in your diet or take a calcium or vitamin D supplement.
  • Do not receive a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps) while you are taking Cortef. Talk with your doctor before you receive any vaccine.
  • Diabetes patients - Cortef may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Lab tests, including blood electrolytes, blood calcium levels, blood pressure, and vision tests may be performed while you use Cortef. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Caution is advised when using Cortef in CHILDREN; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Corticosteroids may affect growth rate in CHILDREN and teenagers in some cases. They may need regular growth checks while they use Cortef.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Cortef while you are pregnant. It is not known if Cortef is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use Cortef, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of Cortef:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Difficulty sleeping; dizziness or lightheadedness; headache; increased appetite; increased sweating; indigestion; nervousness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black, tarry stools; changes in menstrual periods; chest pain; eye pain or increased pressure in the eye; fever, chills, or sore throat; joint or bone pain; mood or mental changes (eg, depression); muscle pain or weakness; seizures; severe or persistent nausea or vomiting; stomach pain or bloating; swelling of feet or legs; unusual weight gain or loss; vision changes; vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of Cortef:

Store Cortef at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Cortef out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Cortef, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Cortef is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Cortef or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Cortef. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Cortef. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Cortef.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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