Cortisone: Uses, Action Mechanism, Side Effects, Interactions, Doses and Warnings

It is a medicine used to treat adrenocortical insufficiency, arthritis, allergic conditions, and ulcerative colitis.

It also treats anemia, lupus, and skin conditions, including severe psoriasis.

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

Mechanism of action

Cortisone belongs to the group of glucocorticoid medications. Cortisone is a steroid medication.

It helps to reduce the swelling in your body. It also stops your body’s response to different stimuli. It works by stopping the release of molecules that cause inflammation. This also prevents your body from having an immune response.

Side effects

The most common side effects include:

  • Confusion.
  • Emotion.
  • Restlessness.
  • Headache.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Skin problems include acne and thin skin.
  • Intense sweating
  • Redness.
  • Problems to sleep.
  • Weight gain.

These effects may disappear in a few days or a couple of weeks if they are mild. If they persist, call your doctor.


Serious side effects

The most severe side effects include:

Allergic reactions

Symptoms may include:

  • Acne.
  • Itch.
  • Urticaria.
  • Swelling of the face, lips or tongue.
Fluid and electrolyte problems

These may include:

  • Fluid retention.
  • Heart failure, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, swelling of arms and legs, and high blood pressure.
Muscle problems

Symptoms may include:

  • Muscular weakness.
  • Broken bones in his spine.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Tendon rupture.
Stomach problems

These may include:

  • Peptic ulcer, with symptoms such as upper stomach pain and black and tarry stools.
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), with symptoms such as upper stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Double vision.
  • Eye pain.
  • Convulsions


The oral cortisone tablet may interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs that you may be taking.

Medications you should not use with cortisone:

Do not receive live vaccines while you are taking cortisone. Examples of these medications include:

  • Live vaccine against the flu.
  • Vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella.

If you get a vaccine, your body may not be able to develop resistance to the virus in the vaccine. The virus can spread in your body and cause side effects.


Allergy warning

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

  • Acne.
  • Itching or hives
  • Swelling of your face, lips or tongue.

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor immediately.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with infections: do not take this medicine if you have a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection. Cortisone can weaken your body’s response to infections. The medication can also hide the symptoms of an infection.

This medicine can raise blood pressure for people with high blood pressure or heart problems. It can also make heart conditions worse.

For people with diabetes: l cortisone can increase their blood sugar level. You may need to assess your blood sugar level more often. Your doctor may also change the dose of your diabetes medications.

For people with glaucoma or eye problems: This medication increases the risk of eye infections.

For people with stomach or intestinal problems: This medication can irritate the stomach and intestines. This can make your condition worse.

Ask your doctor if this medicine is safe for people with liver and kidney problems. It can make your liver or kidney problems worse.

Ask your doctor if this medication is safe for people with seizures. It can make your condition worse.

Ask your doctor if this medication is safe for people with psychiatric and mood disorders. It can make your condition worse.

For pregnant women: there has not been enough research on the use of cortisone in pregnant women. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific damage that can be done to the fetus.

For women who are breastfeeding: this medicine can pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a breastfed child. These side effects include slowed growth and development. You may have to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.


The dose, form, and how often you will take it will depend on:

  • Your age.
  • The condition that is being treated.
  • The severity of your condition
  • Other medical conditions
  • How you react to the first dose

What happens if you take too much cortisone?

Symptoms of an overdose of this medication may include:

  • Insomnia .
  • Nervousness.
  • Increased appetite
  • Indigestion.

Call your doctor or the local poison control center if you think you have taken too much of this medication.

What to do if you miss a dose?

Could you take it as soon as you remember it? Call your doctor or pharmacist if it is almost time for your next dose. You may have to miss a dose or take an additional dose depending on the condition you are treating.

Do not take an additional dose without checking with your doctor or pharmacist.


This article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and experience of a licensed health professional.