Hydrocortisone is used as a hormone replacement therapy in individuals with certain disorders in the adrenal glands.
This medicine may also be used to help relieve inflammation and treat a wide variety of diseases such as certain allergic reactions, rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation in joints of fingers, wrist, feet, ankles), lupus (autoimmune disease that causes inflammation), and inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. ulcerative colitis).
Hydrocortisone may be used to treat other conditions as decided by your doctor.
Take Hydrocortisone exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Take it together with food or immediately after a meal. Try to take it at the same time each day.
This medicine is available as a conventional or modified-release tablet.
If you are taking the modified-release type of tablet (usually labelled as "MR"), swallow it whole. Do not divide, chew or crush the tablet.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe depending on your condition and response to the medication.
Hydrocortisone must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it suddenly as this may worsen your condition.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- untreated fungal, bacterial, or viral infection affecting the entire body
- cerebral malaria (a complication of malaria characterised by swelling of the brain or brain damage)
as Hydrocortisone may not be suitable for you.
Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated.
You must avoid any vaccinations without consulting with your doctor.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease e.g. heart failure, recent heart attack
- stomach problems e.g. stomach ulcer
- myasthenia gravis (muscle weakness disorder)
- osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of bones)
- systemic sclerosis (an autoimmune disorder characterised by scarring of the skin, joints and internal organs)
- myopathy (muscle weakness of the upper and lower limbs) after taking steroids in the past
- blood clotting disorders
- suspected phaeochromocytoma (rare tumour of the adrenal gland causing high blood pressure)
- history of TB (infection known as tuberculosis)
- history of mood disorder or mental health problems
- history of epilepsy (fits or seizures)
- eye disease e.g. glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye), cataract (clouding of the lens of the eye)
- thyroid disease
- liver disease
- kidney disease
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving Hydrocortisone to a child. Children may be more sensitive to the side effects.
Avoid exposure to anyone who is infected with chickenpox or measles. If you are exposed to these infections, contact your doctor immediately.
If you are going to have certain laboratory test (e.g. nitroblue tetrazolium test, skin test) or operation, including minor surgery or dental work, inform your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medicine.
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Your blood pressure may rise to unsafe levels without you noticing it. Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
- Routine tests (e.g. blood sugar and electrolyte levels, bone density, eye examination) may be done while you are being treated with Hydrocortisone.
- Monitoring of the growth (e.g. height) and development of children taking this medicine may also be needed.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these tests.
Hydrocortisone may cause any of the following side effects: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased appetite, indigestion, stomach pain, weight gain, joint pain, difficulty sleeping, acne, and excessive hair growth.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- rashes, breathlessness, swelling of the face, eyes or mouth
- rounding of the face, slow healing, stretch marks on the skin
- blurring of your vision or other visual disturbances
- unusual changes in mood or behaviour (being too depressed, agitated, or having compulsive and impulsive behaviour)
- unusual tiredness, increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination
- fits or seizures
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Avoid live vaccinations during treatment with Hydrocortisone. Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated or if you are planning to get vaccinated.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or using any of these medicines:
- medicines for high blood pressure e.g. clonidine, methyldopa, metoprolol
- water pills or medicines for water retention e.g. furosemide, bumetanide, acetazolamide
- certain medicines to treat fungal infection e.g. ketoconazole, amphotericin B
- medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital
- medicine to treat TB (infection known as tuberculosis) e.g. rifampicin, rifabutin
- certain antibiotics e.g. erythromycin, clarithromycin
- certain medicines for asthma e.g. salbutamol, theophylline
- NSAIDs (medicine for pain and inflammation) e.g. aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen
- digoxin (medicine for heart disease)
- blood-thinning medicines e.g. warfarin
- ritonavir (medicine for HIV infection)
- methotrexate (medicine for cancer)
- birth control pills
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Hydrocortisone.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.