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What are common Ozempic side effects?

Monday 9 January 2023
Ozempic
7 minute(s) read

Table of Contents


I. Ozempic function

II. Stomach Problems

III. Nausea

IV. Diarrhea

V. Energy Changes

VI. Ozempic Complications

VII. How long can you stay on Ozempic? 


Living with type 2 diabetes can be debilitating if you do not seek effective treatment for insulin resistance. If your pancreas does not produce an adequate amount of insulin, there is insufficient insulin to take up glucose in the bloodstream, causing high blood sugar. High blood sugar can lead to serious complications like vascular issues and eye problems. Your treatment plan may involve insulin injections and a prescription for Ozempic.

Ozempic is typically prescribed to improve your blood glucose levels further. Also known as semaglutide, Ozempic is typically an add-on prescription, so talk to your doctor if you think Ozempic is right for you. Semaglutide can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but what are the side effects? Read on to learn more.

How does Ozempic work?

Ozempic works in the stomach and pancreas, so understanding Ozempic’s function explains many common gastrointestinal-related symptoms. Ozempic is a long-acting GLP-1 agonist that regulates appetite and blood sugar levels. 

A doctor testing a person’s blood sugar

GLP-1 agonists work by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Glucose is used as fuel to regulate blood sugar levels when there is more insulin present in the bloodstream. Ozempic also delays stomach emptying, keeping the food in your stomach longer. When food stays in your stomach longer, it prevents feelings of hunger and regulates appetite. This function can encourage weight loss in Ozempic patients. [1] One risk factor of type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese, so managing your weight and regulating blood glucose levels is a win-win for many patients.

Stomach Problems

In the FDA’s studies on the safety and effectiveness of Ozempic, stomach pain was one of the most commonly reported side effects. [2] The stomach is one of the recommended areas for Ozempic injection, so you may also experience bruising in the stomach. Severe stomach pain is not normal and may indicate other serious complications like pancreatitis or gallbladder problems. Semaglutide delays stomach emptying, so abdominal symptoms are one of the most common side effects.

Nausea

Nausea and stomach issues are often related. In one large-scale study published through the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers studied the effect of once-weekly Ozempic on 1961 obese participants. [3] At the end of the study, the researchers found that nausea was one of the most common side effects in the participants. Nausea was mild for most people, and few had to cease the study because of this symptom. 

Diarrhea

Because Ozempic affects the stomach and gastrointestinal system, unusual bowel movements may occur. The same large-scale study mentioned above also found that diarrhea is the second most common side effect of Ozempic. This is usually a temporary symptom, and most patients with this side effect experience issues. Tell your doctor immediately if you feel you are experiencing severe diarrheal issues.

Energy Changes

Patients taking Ozempic may also experience energy changes once they begin semaglutide injections. Weight loss with Ozempic occurs because food stays in the stomach longer, but this function can increase the chance of fatigue. If you are not hungry, you will consume fewer calories, which can affect your energy. You may feel tired more often, and if this affects your life, you may have to make some diet changes to boost your energy levels. Your doctor will advise you on a diet plan and which foods to avoid on Ozempic[3]

A tired-looking person pouring coffee on the counter

Ozempic Complications

The side effects above are the most common, but semaglutide may also cause potential health complications. Your doctor will review these severe side effects in detail when you receive a prescription for Ozempic.

a. Ozempic pancreatitis symptoms

The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen surrounded by the small intestine and liver. The two main functions of this gland are digestion and blood sugar regulation. Ozempic works with pancreatic cells to release more insulin, so the interaction between Ozempic and the pancreas increases the risk of inflammation (pancreas). This can be serious if left untreated. Symptoms of pancreatitis can include:

  • Abdominal pain that spreads to the back
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Rapid pulse
  • Fever
  • Tender stomach [3]

b. Gallbladder problems

The gallbladder is a small organ located under the liver and produces the substance (bile) that digests fats from the food you eat. Some patients taking Ozempic report gallbladder problems when taking semaglutide. Gallstones occur in some patients, which can be painful and disrupt everyday activities. Gallstones are made of cholesterol, bile pigments, and calcium salts. These crystalline stones can block the bile duct in the gallbladder and cause severe pain. Symptoms of gallstones may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Intensifying pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • High fever 

If these symptoms become intense, seek medical help right away. If gallstones are large, you may require surgery to remove them.

c. Kidney damage

If you live long-term with type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to experience kidney damage. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can affect the vessels, reducing the renal system's function. Ozempic may decrease the risk of kidney problems with continued use, but severe kidney problems may occur in some patients. Kidney damage is more likely if you already have kidney issues or a family history of kidney problems. If you take diuretics along with Ozempic, you are at an increased risk. Symptoms of kidney issues may include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Nausea [3]

Some of these symptoms may mimic common side effects of Ozempic, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary, you may experience serious side effects. 

d. Thyroid tumors 

The thyroid is an important gland in the body that controls the metabolism and how your body uses energy. If the thyroid does not work properly, you can experience symptoms that affect your weight and mood. When the FDA performed several studies researching the effectiveness of Ozempic, the incidence of thyroid tumors was observed during animal testing.

A glowing red thyroid in a person’s neck

Because thyroid tumors are a complication, you may not take Ozempic if you have a medical or family history of endocrine neoplasia syndrome 2. This is a rare endocrine disorder that increases the risk of thyroid tumors. These tumors may become cancerous, so you must tell your doctor about any thyroid conditions you have before beginning Ozempic. Symptoms of thyroid problems may include:

  • Neck swelling caused by an enlarged thyroid
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hair loss
  • Hives
  • Twitching
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Puffy face
  • Unusual weight gain or weight loss

e. Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is a major concern for type 2 diabetes patients taking Ozempic. Hypoglycemia occurs when there isn’t enough glucose in the bloodstream. This may occur because Ozempic stimulates more insulin to take up sugar, but if the insulin performs this job too efficiently, low blood sugar can occur.

Signs of hypoglycemia often include hunger, dizziness, sweating, clamminess, confusion, and a fast heartbeat. If you are experiencing low blood sugar, consuming something sugary can help boost your levels. If hypoglycemia occurs frequently, your doctor may have to adjust your Ozempic dose.

How long can you stay on Ozempic?

If you are well-informed on the possible side effects of Ozempic, you can reduce the risk of ignoring warning signs. Starting new medications always comes with the possibility of side effects, but how long is it safe to use Ozempic? Currently, there is no exact answer. If you experience complications while using semaglutide, you may have to cease its use, but if the medication works for you, many patients can continue injections long-term. Ozempic is a fairly new medication, and many supplementary clinical trials are currently in the works, but it is fully approved by the FDA. [4]

Once you begin Ozempic for type 2 diabetes or use it off-label for weight loss, your physician may advise you that this is a long-term commitment. Ozempic is an expensive medication, and taking it every month can add up. If you want to save money on your prescription, visit an online Canadian pharmacy like RxConnected to save today.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.