Hydrocortisone is a steroid that is normally produced by the adrenal glands in the human body. This substance can be naturally occurring in the body or produced synthetically. Glucocorticoids are used by the body to reduce or stop the inflammatory response when it is present. These tablets are available in three strengths, 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg. This type of medication is used to treat systemic problems that issue an inflammatory response in the human body.
Some of the types of diseases and disorders that can be treated with hydrocortisone include allergic responses such as seasonal allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens such as dust or pollens are breathed in through the nose and mouth and an inflammatory response follows. The symptoms of this condition are a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, tearing of the eyes, headache, a sore throat and itching of the areas around the nose, eyes and mouth. Hydrocortisone tablets can be used to treat other systemic allergic responses that do not respond to conventional treatment.
It is also used to treat contact dermatitis which is an allergic reaction that manifests as an inflammation or rash that appears on the skin. This is caused by the skin coming into direct contact with the allergen or irritant. Another disorder that is treated with hydrocortisone tablets is atopic dermatitis. This disorder is also called eczema. It is a chronic skin disorder that manifests as a scaly rash that can have oozing blisters. This disorder causes severe itching and dry leathery skin around the areas that are inflamed. While atopic dermatitis is due to an allergic response, the allergen does not have to be in contact with the skin for this type of inflammatory response to take place. Some allergens can be breathed in for example and cause this type of response. People who have atopic dermatitis or eczema usually have a family history of asthma or hay fever as well.
Hydrocortisone tablets can be used to treat several arthritic disorders. All of these disorders are inflammatory in nature so using systemic steroids to reduce the inflammation associated with these diseases periodically is a well documented type of treatment. Some of the different types of arthritic conditions that can be treated with hydrocortisone include gouty arthritis, epicondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and acute bursitis.
There are several ophthalmic disorders that hydrocortisone can be used to treat. These disorders include allergic conjunctivitis, keratitis, and allergic corneal ulcers. This medication is used to treat gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and regional enteritis.
There are some severe side effects that can occur when taking systemic steroids in higher dosages. These side effects can also occur when steroids have to be taken for a long period of time. Some of the side effects that can occur include suppression of the immune system which can increase the risk of developing infections while taking steroids. Steroids can also mask the symptoms of infections while using them. There have been reports of posterior subcapsular cataracts occurring when long term steroid use was needed. People who are prescribed steroids for long term usage are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma as well.
People who are taking systemic steroids are at a higher risk of developing chicken pox and other viral illnesses such as measles. They should take necessary precautions to prevent exposure to such illnesses while taking these types of medications. Immunization with dead or inactivated vaccine may be warranted. It is not recommended to have vaccinations with live or activated vaccine while taking a high dosage of steroids.
Other side effects can include fluid retention, hypertension, loss of potassium, loss of muscle mass, tendon rupture, thin or fragile skin, inability of wounds to heal, increased swelling, menstrual irregularities, increase the need for insulin in diabetics, cause latent diabetes, and decrease the tolerance for carbohydrates. Psychosis has even been reported with steroid usage.
Steroid dosages should be carefully monitored by a medical professional and this type of medication should only be used when absolutely necessary due to the extreme side effects it can cause. Dosages need to be tapered off before stopping the medication as this can cause severe side effects as well.