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Colocort Side Effects

Generic name: hydrocortisone

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 16, 2023.

Note: This document contains side effect information about hydrocortisone. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Colocort.

Applies to hydrocortisone: oral granule, oral tablet. Other dosage forms:

Serious side effects of Colocort

Along with its needed effects, hydrocortisone (the active ingredient contained in Colocort) 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

Incidence not known

Other side effects of Colocort

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

Incidence not known

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to hydrocortisone: compounding powder, injectable powder for injection, injectable solution, injectable suspension, oral granule, 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.[Ref]


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[Ref]


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[Ref]

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.[Ref]


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


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[Ref]


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[Ref]

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.[Ref]


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[Ref]


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

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.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Leukocytosis[Ref]

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


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[Ref]


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


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[Ref]

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.[Ref]


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

Frequency not reported: Anaphylaxis, anaphylactoid reaction, angioedema[Ref]

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.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Vertigo, abnormal fat deposits, malaise[Ref]


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[Ref]

Frequently asked questions


1. (2001) "Product Information. Hydrocortone (hydrocortisone)." Merck & Co., Inc

2. (2001) "Product Information. Cortenema (hydrocortisone topical)." Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc

3. (2022) "Product Information. Solu-CORTEF (hydrocortisone)." Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group

4. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics."

5. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information."

6. (2017) "Product Information. Cortef (hydrocortisone)." Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group

7. (2017) "Product Information. Cortifoam (hydrocortisone)." Meda Pharmaceuticals

8. Egashira K, Origuchi H, Sagara T, Kikuchi Y (1987) "Coronary artery spasm during hydrocortisone-induced allergic reactions." Am Heart J, 113, p. 1516-7

9. Lauerma AI, Reitamo S, Maibach HI (1991) "Systemic hydrocortisone/cortisol induces allergic skin reactions in presensitized subjects." J Am Acad Dermatol, 24, p. 182-5

10. Kamm GL, Hagmeyer KO (1999) "Allergic-type reactions to corticosteroids." Ann Pharmacother, 33, p. 451-60

11. Peller JS, Bardana EJ Jr (1985) "Anaphylactoid reaction to corticosteroid: case report and review of the literature." Ann Allergy, 54, p. 302-5

12. Dajani BM, Sliman NA, Shubair KS, Hamzeh YS (1981) "Bronchospasm caused by intravenous hydrocortisone sodium succinate (Solu-Cortef) in aspirin-sensitive asthmatics." J Allergy Clin Immunol, 68, p. 201-4

13. Mendelson LM, Meltzer EO, Hamburger RN (1974) "Anaphylaxis-like reactions to corticosteroid therapy." J Allergy Clin Immunol, 54, p. 125-31

14. Feigenbaum BA, Stevenson DD, Simon RA (1995) "Hydrocortisone sodium succinate does not cross-react with aspirin in aspirin-sensitive patients with asthma." J Allergy Clin Immunol, 96, p. 545-8

15. Fulcher DA, Katelaris CH (1991) "Anaphylactoid reaction to intravenous hydrocortisone sodium succinate: a case report and literature review [see comments." Med J Aust, 154, p. 210-4

16. Partridge MR, Gibson GJ (1978) "Adverse bronchial reactions to intravenous hydrocortisone in two aspirin-sensitive asthmatic patients." Br Med J, 1, p. 1521-2

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.