Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hydrocortisone and Addison's Disease

I am putting in the symptoms of too much and too little hydrocortisone when it is used to treat Addison's Disease. It is important to know which medicine is too low or high to be able to adjust it. Look at the whole group of symptoms. For instance "low energy" can be caused by many things, but if you have most of the symptoms of low Hydrocortisone, then you can be pretty confident that is the problem. Make notes in your health journal and talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications.

Symptoms of Too Little Hydrocortisone

  • low energy
  • low blood sugar
  • low blood pressure
  • very tired - especially in afternoon
  • not hungry
  • headache
  • joint aches
  • nausea, vomiting
  • dizzy, light headed - especially when stand (low blood pressure)
  • painfully cold - especially feet, chills
  • confusion - trouble thinking and remembering
  • muscle cramps
  • increased skin color (pinky tan)
  • fatigue worsens
  • weakness
Symptoms of Too High Hydrocortisone
  • gaining weight- may be slow or put on quickly
  • hard to lose weight
  • increased appetite (this is usually for the first few weeks even at the right dose, but should decrease to a more normal level after that)
  • face puffy
  • bruising easily
  • small fat deposits on tummy and back of neck
  • Osteoporosis (too much calcium taken out of bones by long period of high levels of hydrocortisone)
  • Type 2 Diabetes (from long period of high levels of hydrocortisone)
  • trouble sleeping (feel wide awake at bedtime)
  • thinning skin
  • muscle loss
  • high blood pressure (140/90 and up)


  1. Hi Cheryl, I was taking an extra 2 1/2 of hydrocortisone for about four months but recently stopped. It raised my blood pressure quite a bit. I know that can raise blood pressure but will it eventually go down, and how long will that take? Thank you

  2. Your blood pressure may take a week or two to return to normal. Remember that stress can cause your blood pressure to go up, so don't worry about your blood pressure (see a doctor if it is really high). Are you taking fludrocort? Hydrocortisone has a little effect on blood pressure, but fludrocort has a major effect on blood pressure since it controls minerals in the blood and consequently, your blood pressure. If my blood pressure is high, I cut my fludrocort to bring it down. I might also cut down on salt.

  3. I take florineff 0.5 mg daily. I've cut caffeine and lowered salt. I wake up with an adrenaline rush and feel a lot of adrenaline coursing my body quiet often. I also have graves disease and they are checking my tsh and for a phecochromoctye tumor. It stays fine all week 107/78 and shoots way up once a week and my face becomes very flushed. I have had anxiety but working on that in therapy. I'm wondering if it's my sympathetic nervous system as for a while I was feeling this strange internal tremor. Thank you!

  4. Cutting caffeine is a good idea especially when you have trouble with your adrenal glands. When your dose of florineff is too high, your blood pressure will steadily and consistently go up. If it is going up once a week then going back down (it does not go down if it is a florineff overdose), then it must be being caused by something else. A health journal might help you determine what is causing this rise. Note what happens each day. What are the stresses? If you body is producing more adrenaline or cortisone due to stress, then it can cause your blood pressure to go up. Stress does affect all your body including your sympathetic nervous system. It takes time but you can figure it out. I've found that prayer helps.

    1. Thank you Cheryl! I am still under a great deal of stress and I have anxiety. But I am seeking therapy and with God all things are possible. MY blood pressure is better. I keep referring back to your comment about stress producing more cortisone and adrenaline. I think this may be the case with me. My doctor has cut my cortisone dose from 20 mg a day to 17 1/2. I'm taking it slow and only cutting back a few times a week until my body gets used to it. She also cut my florineff to five days a week. She said this may be enough for my size. 5.2 126 pounds. What do you think? I honestly think it may be helping with my hot flashes also as I've had less lately. May I ask you to pray that God will help me with my stress and anxiety and that he will bring me peace. I will pray for you as well that God will be glorified through you as I know he is here on your blog. Thank you! Your blog has been very helpful to me!

  5. Sally, If you are feeling better on less that is a good sign. You may be healing. Therapy can help you to heal as you resolve problems. Now that I am aware where negative thought are coming from, I can manage them better. Therefore I have less stress. If you feel stressed, your body is producing more cortisone and adrenaline which can sure make you ill over time. I have written about my struggles here