Cortisone is a steroid hormone. It is one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. In chemical structure, it is a corticosteroid closely related to corticosterone. It is used to treat a variety of ailments and can be administered intravenously, orally, intraarticularly, or transcutaneously. Cortisone suppresses the immune system, thus reducing inflammation and attendant pain and swelling at the site of the injury. Risks exist, in particular in the long-term use of cortisone.
A cortisone injection can also be used to give short-term pain relief and reduce the swelling from inflammation of a joint, tendon, or bursa in, for example, the joints of the knee, elbow, and shoulder.
Cortisone may also be used to deliberately suppress immune response in persons with autoimmune diseases or following an organ transplant to prevent transplant rejection. The suppression of the immune system may also be important in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as severe IgE-mediated allergies.
Last, cortisone is a common treatment for a severe sore throat that occurs commonly with EBV infectious mononucleosis. It is important to note that cortisone does not help lessen the duration of the virus, and is used purely to increase the comfort of a patient with trouble speaking or swallowing as a result of the mononucleosis-induced swollen throat.