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Instructions for Patients Taking Cortef


Cortef is a hormone made in the adrenal gland. Symptoms of cortisol deficiency include:

  • Fatigue, especially in the afternoon
  • Stress
  • Sugar/Salt cravings
  • Low blood sugar
  • Allergies, asthma, sinusitis
  • Chemical sensitivity (perfume, detergents, odors), eczema
  • Aches, pains (especially neck and back)
  • Muscle stiffness, joint pain, arthritis
  • Hives, itching, skin sensitivity, reaction to bug bites, acne
  • Weak immune system, repeated infections, pneumonia
  • Autoimmune diseases, thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Low blood pressure, low fluid volume (dehydrate easily)

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.’ This is important for you to understand because you will receive information from the pharmacy that describes the ‘side effects’ of steroids. Some health care providers are not aware of the difference between therapeutic replacement doses of cortef and ‘steroids’. Cortef does not cause these side-effects.
Cortef 5 mg may be taken three times daily with meals. Some people prefer to take it twice daily, 20 mg in the morning and 5 -10 mg around 4 pm. Because cortef is a natural hormone it will not interfere with taking any other medication. If you develop a respiratory infection or go through a period of extreme stress you may need to temporarily increase your dose of cortef (up to 20 mg four times daily).