Instructions for Patients Taking Cortef

Cortef (hydrocortisone, cortisol) is a hormone made in the adrenal gland. It is prescribed in physiologic doses (doses made by the adrenal gland under normal conditions) for symptoms of low cortisol or adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms of cortisol deficiency include:

  • Fatigue, especially in the afternoon
  • Stress
  • Sugar/Salt cravings
  • Low blood sugar
  • Allergies, asthma, sinusitis
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Aches, pains (especially neck and back)
  • Muscle stiffness, Joint pain, Arthritis
  • Hives, itching, skin sensitivity, reaction to bug bites
  • Weak immune system, repeated infections, pneumonia
  • Low blood pressure, low fluid volume (dehydrate easily)

It is important to understand the difference between a physiologic replacement dose of hydrocortisone and a pharmacologic dose of steroids. Cortef is usually prescribed in 5 to 10 mg tablets given two to three times daily for a total daily dose of 15-20 mg. This dose does NOT have the side effects of ‘steroid therapy'.