Cortef is an oral corticosteroid medication that is prescribed to treat arthritis, severe allergies, some skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, certain cancers, and for Addison’s disease that causes your own cortisol levels to drop. Cortisol has several functions in your body. It helps metabolize fat, protein, and carbohydrates, keeps your blood pressure normal, prepares your body for a fight or flight response, and can prevent the release of the substances in your body that causes inflammation by suppressing your immune system. Cortef is not usually recommended as a long-term medication, but at a continued lower dose can help those with arthritis and other conditions for which there is no cure.
Once taken as directed, Cortef or generic Hydrocortisone acts within your cells to stop the release of inflammation-causing chemicals that are essential to your immune system when there is a threat detected. For those with an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, the threat is usually not real but something has caused this response to work overtime and your own tissues or organs come under attack. By reducing the production of chemicals that are sent as first responders, the inflammation subsides and you find relief from the pain. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes your own immune system to attack your adrenal glands. Antibodies attach to the adrenal cortex and destroy the cells that make cortisol and aldosterone, another corticosteroid hormone that regulates the salt and water balance in your body. Once the majority of the adrenal cortex has been destroyed, your adrenal glands can no longer produce enough of the hormones that your body requires to function properly. The most common symptoms of Addison’s disease are being extremely lethargic, skin discoloration, frequent urination, and low blood pressure.
Speak to your doctor about any potential harm that could occur by taking Cortef if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or you are breast feeding. Discuss other medical conditions or allergies you have and list any OTC or Rx medications you are taking, including herbal remedies and dietary or vitamin supplements. This will help your doctor determine if Cortef (Hydrocortisone) is the right drug for you.
Because Cortef can suppress your immune system in order to find relief from inflammation, you are at risk for contracting other illnesses such as measles, chicken pox, or tuberculosis if you become exposed to them. If you are diabetic you should monitor your glucose levels regularly because Cortef can cause an increase in your blood sugar levels. All medications should be stored out of children’s reach and never shared with anyone else.