What is Ozempic used for?

Monday 9 January 2023
10 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Ozempic function

II. Is Ozempic insulin?

III. Dosage

IV. Ozempic overdose

V. What to know before starting Ozempic

VI. Ozempic for Weight Loss

VII. Is Ozempic effective?

VIII. Interactions

IX. How to get Ozempic for weight loss

Ozempic is a popular type 2 diabetes medication that may be prescribed off-label for weight loss. The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide, an incretin mimetic part of the glucagon-like peptide one analog (GLP-1) drug class. Many adults in the United States are living with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and Ozempic may prevent the development of future diabetic complications like cardiovascular diseases. [1]

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly, so excess glucose is circulating in the bloodstream. Too much sugar in the bloodstream causes major nervous, circulatory, and immune system issues. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas does not produce enough insulin and helps move sugar into cells, so your body can use it for fuel. You will require insulin therapy if your body cannot get fuel from the food and drinks you consume.

Ozempic is typically not the first medication prescribed for type 2 diabetes but can assist in insulin output from the pancreas and prevents extra sugar production from the liver. Along with insulin therapy, other type 2 diabetes medications like Ozempic are beneficial add-ons to your treatment plan. Because of its function and added weight loss benefit, Ozempic is in high demand, which can affect its cost. If you want to save money on your Ozempic prescription, you can start saving today through our online Canadian pharmacy. Read on to learn more about the function and usage of Ozempic.

Bottles of insulin

How does Ozempic work?

Insulin production is essential for body function, and Ozempic can help regulate blood glucose levels.  There is no miracle drug for type 2 diabetes, but medications like Ozempic can help stabilize your type 2 diabetes and put you on the path to blood glucose regulation. With the correct medications, diet, and lifestyle choices, type 2 diabetes may be reversed. But how does Ozempic help with insulin resistance?

As mentioned above, semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist, a drug classification that improves blood sugar and encourages weight loss. GLP-1s are highly effective at stabilizing blood glucose levels and reducing heart attack and stroke risk. These medications stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas, allowing cells to absorb glucose and preventing excess sugar from entering the bloodstream. The GLP-1 hormone also prevents stomach emptying, releasing less sugar into the bloodstream and keeping you feeling fuller. 

There are several types of GLP-1 drugs; some are intended for long-term use, while others are short-term. Taking longer-acting drugs like Ozempic makes you more likely to experience weight loss. [1] 

Is Ozempic Insulin?

Ozempic differs from traditional treatments for type 2 diabetes because it does not involve insulin therapy. Not every type 2 diabetes patient requires intensive insulin therapy. Still, if you have severe type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance caused by type 1 diabetes, you may take insulin injections several times a day. Insulin therapy works best when taken half an hour before meals, so insulin can work on glucose once you eat or drink. There are also insulin pumps available that inject insulin into your bloodstream automatically.

So, how do you inject Ozempic medication? Ozempic is administered via injection, but it is not the same as insulin. Unlike insulin, Ozempic is taken once a week and does not contain insulin to interact with nutrients in your stomach. Semaglutide encourages insulin production from the pancreas but does not contain insulin itself. Because of this, semaglutide is typically an additive medication to a type 2 diabetes treatment plan and may be taken alongside traditional insulin therapy. Taking the two together may increase your risk of low blood sugar, so talk to your doctor before mixing the two drugs. [2]

Ozempic Dosages

There are several Ozempic dosages, and you should always take what your doctor prescribes. Your semaglutide prescription may change, so it is essential to stay current on your current dosage. Ozempic comes in a pre-filled pen, and the strength is written as milligrams of semaglutide per milliliter of solution or mg/mL. Each pen contains four milligrams of semaglutide. If you have smaller dosages, the dose per injection will be smaller. Because each pen holds several dosages, it is important to take what you are prescribed and dispose of the pen properly. The most common dosages include:

  • 2 mg/1.5 mL
  • 4 mg/ 3 mL
  • 8 mg/3 mL

When beginning Ozempic, you will take a starting dosage so your physician can monitor how you react to the medication. A typical starting dosage is a 2 mg/1.5 mL pen; you will inject 0.25 mg once a week for four weeks. If you respond well, you may receive a 4 mg/3 mL and take a single milligram once a week if your blood sugar levels respond well. [3]

a. Ozempic 2 mg Dose

The highest single dose available for Ozempic is 2 mg once a week. Your doctor may prescribe an 8 mg/3 mL, the highest maintenance dose available. Your doctor will continue to monitor your blood sugar at the highest maintenance dose

b. Ozempic Dosing for Weight Loss

If your physician determines you are eligible to use Ozempic off-label for weight loss, you will likely receive a two-milligram weekly prescription of semaglutide. Semaglutide for weight loss is typically administered in higher dosages.

Someone standing on a scale

What happens if you take too much Ozempic?

When taken correctly, this medication can be safe and effective for blood sugar regulation, but too much can cause serious Ozempic side effects. Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, is the most common serious complication that can occur while taking Ozempic. Low blood sugar occurs when your glucose range is lower than normal. If there isn’t enough sugar in the body, you may experience the following:

  • Confusion
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hunger
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shakiness
  • Impaired vision
  • Headaches
  • Seizures [4]

Taking too much Ozempic can dangerously reduce the amount of glucose in the blood. If you feel like you are experiencing hypoglycemia, you can check your blood levels and eat a sugary snack like orange juice to boost your blood sugar levels. Prolonged low blood sugar can be dangerous, so do not take more semaglutide than prescribed. 

Because you take Ozempic once a week, the side effects of an overdose may last longer than a typical daily medication. Other overdose side effects include severe nausea and vomiting. If you are experiencing serious symptoms, call emergency services to get the help you need.

What to know before starting Ozempic

It is essential to go over the pros and cons of a medication with your doctor before adding it to your treatment plan. If you have type 2 diabetes and want to lose weight as a bonus, Ozempic may look like the perfect drug, but it is not for everyone. You may be ineligible to take this medication if any of the following apply to you:

  • A family history of thyroid cancer
  • A medical history of kidney issues
  • Diabetic retinopathy (vision problem caused by uncontrolled blood sugar)
  • You are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • You are breastfeeding

Ozempic for Weight Loss

Ozempic is not approved for weight loss, only type 2 diabetes treatment. More and more doctors are prescribing semaglutide off-label for weight loss, so what does that mean? Off-label uses for medications are used frequently, but your doctor will determine if it is safe for you to take Ozempic for weight loss alone. Your physician may also prescribe Ozempic alternatives if it is not right for you. 

Being overweight or obese can severely affect your health, including stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems, and heart disease. If you are overweight or obese and it affects your everyday life and health, you may receive a prescription for Ozempic. You must fit the proper criteria to use Ozempic for off-label weight loss.

Is Ozempic effective?

Because of its growing popularity, more and more studies are coming out about semaglutide. One large-scale study through Shanghai Jiaotong University in China conducted a controlled study of once-weekly semaglutide injections for type 2 diabetes.

This meta-study took place from 2016-2018 and involved 9,773 participants, 5,774 in the semaglutide group and 3,999 in other therapies. The body mass index of all participants was over 30, qualifying all participants as overweight or obese.

During the study, gastrointestinal disorders were the most commonly reported, with an incidence of 42.9 percent in the semaglutide group and 29.6 percent in the other therapies group. Around 12.8 percent of the participants reported hypoglycemia, but the trial displayed that the risk of low blood sugar with Ozempic was no higher than with other similar medications. [5]

At the end of the large-scale study, researchers determined that using semaglutide for type 2 diabetes was effective for type 2 diabetes patients with stomach disorders. Patients experienced better blood sugar and weight control through semaglutide than other GLP-1 receptor agonists. More studies are coming out about Ozempic, but current trials display that Ozempic can be effective for type 2 diabetes patients with unregulated blood sugar control. 

A person testing their blood sugar

Interactions with Ozempic

Ozempic is safe to take, but it is important to be aware of potential interactions. When beginning a new medication, you should always tell your physician about all herbal supplements and medications you take. Tell your doctor if you take any of the following drugs:

Insulin: Many type 2 diabetes patients require insulin therapy to regulate their blood sugar, but combining Ozempic with other insulin drugs may cause interactions. Taking insulin and an insulin-stimulating drug like Ozempic can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. If you take insulin and want to start Ozempic, your doctor may have to adjust your insulin dosage and lower your semaglutide dose to prevent the risk of hypoglycemia.

Glinides: Glinides are oral type 2 diabetes medications that stimulate pancreatic cells to produce more insulin. These medications only last for a short period, whereas sulphonylureas last longer in the body. Glinides are known as prandial glucose regulators, but if you take glinides and Ozempic together, you may experience too much insulin production, and hypoglycemia may occur.

Sulfonylureas: Like glinides, sulfonylureas are type 2 diabetes drugs that stimulate insulin production from the pancreas. Sulphonylureas help the body use insulin more effectively and remain in your bloodstream longer than glinides. Your doctor will advise you to take the same precautions with these medications as insulin to prevent hypoglycemia. [3]

Other medications: Ozempic delays stomach emptying, so if you are taking other medications for your treatment plan, it can affect drug absorption. Semaglutide causes the stomach to release food more slowly from the stomach, preventing big spikes in blood sugar, so talk to your doctor to ensure it doesn’t affect any drugs or supplements you take.

How to get Ozempic for Weight Loss

Ozempic is an effective medication for type 2 diabetes, but it’s up to your doctor to determine your eligibility to use Ozempic for weight loss. To receive a prescription for semaglutide for weight loss, you will likely be severely overweight or obese with a BMI over 30. Those with a higher BMI are more likely to experience complications from excess weight, including heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and stroke.

The retail price of Ozempic can cost you thousands of dollars per year, so many patients are turning to Canadian pharmacies to save on their medications. If approved for Ozempic, the price tag may be too much for your monthly medical expenses. If you want to learn more about Ozempic and start saving, visit RxConnected 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.