What Are the Side Effects of Cortisone?

November 18, 2022

Cortisone is a steroid hormone used to treat many ailments and can be administered intravenously, orally, topically, or intra-arterially. 

This hormone reduces the inflammatory response and decreases the sensation of pain and swelling in the treated area. 

Although it is a very effective drug to treat pain, we must not forget that, like any drug, it can have short and long-term consequences, some unavoidable and others that we can control if we take it correctly.

Cortisone is a great ally when it comes to treating diseases and ailments such as cancer, allergic reactions, or major inflammations. However, in this article, we will tell you all about its side effects.

Cortisone side effects

You should be aware of the following factors about the side effects that cortisone can cause:

Not everyone who takes cortisone experiences side effects.

The effects of hydrocortisone are somewhat predictable and you can tell how long they will last.

All cortisone side effects are mostly reversible and disappear when you finish the treatment.

If you discuss it with your doctor, there are ways to minimize and prevent the effects.

Here are the most common side effects if you are being treated with cortisone:

  • Increased appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Irritability

  • Fluid retention

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Heartburn

  • Decreased healing power

  • Increased blood sugar level, so if you are diabetic, you will probably have to adjust your medication periodically.

These side effects appear in the short term, and although they are quite annoying and uncomfortable for the patient, they eventually disappear. T

There are ways to prevent and reduce the intensity of these side effects, the most important of which is to never exceed the dosage recommended by your doctor.

Long-term side effects of cortisone

There are also some side effects that are less common when you are on cortisone. The fact that they are not as common is simply because these are side effects caused by the continued intake of cortisone, ailments that appear over the long term:

  • Occasional headaches

  • Migraines

  • Dizziness

  • Mood swings

  • Cataracts

If you are on this medication for a long time, there is a possibility of bone tissue reduction.

In addition, if cortisone is consumed regularly or for a long time, side effects of cortisone can appear once stopped that become irreversible. Some of these conditions are:

  • Diabetes

  • Bone disease due to tissue loss.

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Habitual vomiting and blood in the stools

  • High blood pressure

  • Physical and psychological dependence

Cortisone is a corticosteroid that our body produces naturally, the adrenal cortex is responsible for secreting it, and its function is to convert proteins into carbohydrates and metabolize salt.

The physical dependence on cortisone

If we administer cortisone to the body for a long time, the body gets used to it and stops producing it by itself, thus avoiding a dangerous excess for the organism. 

This is a very serious consequence because the body needs to produce cortisone to act as an anti-inflammatory, in addition to fulfilling all its functions. 

To avoid that, it is recommended to stop taking cortisone little by little, lowering the doses gradually and stimulate the body to produce it itself.

Psychological dependence on cortisone

If so much emphasis is placed on the fact that cortisone should not be taken without a doctor's prescription and that the doses established by specialists should not be exceeded, it is because artificial cortisone is a drug. If properly administered, we can use it to our advantage, but it is a drug that can cause great addiction.

When to see a doctor?

If you detect any of these serious symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately:


  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Tachycardias

  • Chest or jaw pain

  • Confusion

You should also visit your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Intense fatigue

  • Hemorrhages or hematomas

  • Dark stools or the presence of blood

  • Nausea when eating

  • Frequent vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness

  • Severe headache

  • Mood swings

  • Insomnia

  • Bone pain

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Extreme thirst

  • Skin rashes

  • Vision disturbances

  • Swelling or rapid weight gain

Tips for avoiding cortisone side effects

Follow your doctor's instructions in terms of dosage, frequency of treatment, and amount. 

If you have any doubts about the side effects, discuss them with your doctor in case it is necessary to readjust them, but never stop the treatment on your own or administer more doses than prescribed.

Self-medication is one of the greatest scourges of our healthcare system. This bad habit not only causes antibiotics to be less and less effective nowadays, but it is also responsible for many side effects of cortisone because people do not administer this drug properly. 

If you self-medicate, side effects will likely appear, and the chances of physical and psychological dependence on this drug increase considerably.

Good lifestyle habits will prevent you from having to use certain drugs. Eating a healthy and varied diet, avoiding junk food or refined sugars, and exercising regularly, will do more for our health than any medication. 

In addition, following this lifestyle will make your body secrete cortisone naturally, reserving artificial cortisone only for strictly necessary cases.

If you have any doubts or questions, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor, they are responsible for following your treatment.