What Are the Most Common Cortisone Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2018
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Oral and injected cortisone are common treatment options for a number of ailments, but like many other medications, these also have a number of side effects. Some of the most common oral cortisone side effects are upset stomach and increased appetite. When cortisone is injected into the body, it will often cause discomfort. It can also lighten skin color and weaken the surrounding tendons. Some patients who get cortisone injected may also experience flushing and elevated blood sugar.

Cortisone is a corticosteroid hormone, and it can be taken orally or injected directly into the body. Since this medication can suppress the immune system, doctors often prescribe it to patients who have autoimmune diseases or have recently undergone organ transplant procedures. When injected into the joints, cortisone can also help relieve inflammation.

Oral cortisone side effects will often include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Patients who take oral cortisone may also notice that they have increased appetites, and over time, they might also begin to gain weight. Headaches and dizziness are also side effects of oral cortisone.

Injected cortisone can also cause a number of side effects. Patients who have cortisone injected into their joints, for instance, will often experience some pain and swelling around the injection site. These cortisone side effects can last for several hours, and can be relieved with pain killers, anti-inflammatories, and ice packs.


Dark-skinned individuals who get cortisone shots will sometimes notice that their skin becomes very light where the cortisone was injected. Cortisone can also weaken tendons in joints as well. Sometimes, these tendons can also stretch or tear after several cortisone shots.

Most patients who receive cortisone injections will also find that the skin on their face becomes flushed and hot. These side effects can last anywhere from several hours to a few days. Elevated blood sugar is another of the more common side effects.

Although they are rare, allergic reactions can also occur after taking cortisone or getting cortisone injections. This can be a serious medical emergency, and it usually requires immediate medical attention. Patients who are allergic to cortisone may notice a number of side effects.

Hives are one of the most common signs of a cortisone allergy. These are usually red, itchy blotches on the skin. Although they can occur anywhere on the skin, they are typically more common around injection sites. Patients with cortisone allergies may also experience swelling on the face as well as in the mouth and throat. This swelling can cause the airways to close, which can make breathing very difficult. In some severe cases, a cortisone allergy can be fatal.


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Post 4

Two weeks after having a cortisone shot in my heel, I broke out in hives on the backs of my legs only, all the way up to my torso. I'm going on two weeks of hives now. One area on my legs clears up, another breaks out. I can't afford to be tired all the time from benadryl so have been trying other remedies to relieve the itching.

Post 3

The worst side effect of cortisone is the weight gain. I have to get periodic cortisone injections in my knees for arthritis. It works great and relieves my pain and inflammation. But it makes me gain weight.

Not only do I eat more when I'm on cortisone but I also have a lot of water retention. It's very annoying.

Post 2

@alisha-- Yes! Cortisone can (and usually does) raise blood sugar for a few weeks up to a month depending on the cortisone dose. Didn't your doctor mention this?

Especially diabetics should be warned about this because they'll need to adjust their insulin or medication dose during cortisone treatment. I can't believe that some doctors forget to mention this.

Keep an eye on your blood sugar. Things should go back to normal after a few weeks.

Post 1

Does cortisone affect blood sugar? I've been getting higher than normal blood sugar readings lately and I'm suspecting the cortisone injection I got recently.

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