Taking Ozempic? Here are the side effects you should know about

5 mins read

The weight-loss drug Ozempic came into the public consciousness last year, and social media-desire for the drug has led to shortages among patients with type 2 diabetes.

Now, people are starting to recognize the side effects of the drug, including loose skin, which can be known as “Ozympic face”.

“Any rapid weight loss results in loss of fat in many areas of the body, especially in the face, resulting in tissue and skin laxity,” says Dr. Leipziger said. . “Slow progressive weight loss can allow facial skin to retract, so it’s not as drastic as rapid weight loss.”

A recent article in people And The New York Times Note that unwanted side effects can be fixed, but often with expensive fillers and cosmetic surgery.

“The goal of weight loss is to improve health,” Dr. said Vadim Sherman, medical director of bariatric and metabolic surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital. “You can lose fat and weight, but the result is already stretched skin.”

This may be the most visible effect, but it is not the only one, and it is certainly not the most serious possible effect. People who are taking the drug may have problems with vomiting and pancreatitis, although side effects are generally rare.

A family physician in Washington, DC and member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Latasha Selby Perkins said most of the side effects were reported in clinical trials of people taking the drug for an approved purpose. We don’t know what happens to people who are taking these drugs because they want to lose some weight, which is not one of its FDA-approved uses.

Ozempic (brand name for semaglutide) was originally approved in 2017 to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. But clinical trials soon revealed a useful side effect: weight loss. This is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes, many of whom are considered clinically overweight or obese.

So in 2021, the Food and Drug Administration granted another approval, this time for weight loss but only for people with a body mass index of 27 or higher with at least one associated health condition and a BMI of 30 or higher. The trade name of the drug was changed to Vegovi and a higher maximum dose was approved.

Both Wegovy and Ozempic belong to a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists, which work in several ways, including suppressing GLP-1 receptors in your brain to reduce your appetite. GLP stands for glucagon-like peptide-1, a hormone involved in blood sugar control. Other GLP-1 agonists include Rybelsus (semaglutide), Saxenda (liraglutide), and Mounjaro (tirzepatide).

Shortage of medicines for those who really need them

The weight loss associated with Ozempic and related drugs has made them attractive to people who do not have type 2 diabetes or meet other FDA criteria for use of the drug. This has led to shortages among those who need it most and should take it: those with type 2 diabetes.

“When a drug has a weight-loss component, it’s beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes,” Perkins said. Not necessarily for other people.

In the long run, not taking this medication can lead to kidney, heart and eye disease, and even death for people with type 2 diabetes, although there are other drugs on the market that can help lower blood sugar. “Diabetes can really affect people’s lives,” Perkins said.

Lately, comedians Chelsea Handler She said she didn’t even know the drug she was taking to lose 5 pounds was Ozempic. (She stopped using it when she realized she wasn’t a candidate for the drug.)

This brings up an important point: You should know what medications you’re taking and read their package inserts, said Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arber, a medical toxicologist and the center’s executive director. National Capital Poison Center.

For those who find multiple folds and fine print intimidating, take heart. All you need to do is scan the beginning, Johnson-Arbor said.

“The first page is usually a good place for a general overview,” she said. At the very top is a box with any important health warnings (like cancer), followed by warnings and adverse reactions.

Here are some side effects of Ozempic and drugs in the same class.

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

Gastrointestinal symptoms are the most common side effects of GLP-1 agonists, Johnson-Arber said. This is not surprising because Ozempic, Vegovy and other similar drugs act on different aspects of the digestive system. “Your GI tract is a little more sensitive to this drug,” Perkins said.

In clinical trials, nausea occurred in 20% of people taking a 1 mg dose of Ozempic, 16% of people taking a 0.5 mg dose, and 6% of people taking a placebo. Vomiting and diarrhea were less common but still occurred in about 9% of people at the 1 mg dose compared with 2% of people taking placebo.

Diarrhea and vomiting can cause another unwanted effect: dehydration. “When you vomit, your body needs to use some source of water to expel the food,” Perkins explained. “Same thing with diarrhea.”

Often these effects are mild, but they can lead people to stop taking the drug, Sherman said. A good measure of how hydrated you are is your urine output – you should go to the bathroom once every two hours. If it’s decreasing every third or fourth hour, call your doctor’s office for advice. Less frequently than that, visit urgent care or the emergency room, Perkins said. And always hydrate.

For those on the 1 mg dose, 6% reported abdominal pain and 3% reported constipation.

Kidney damage

Sometimes the dehydration from vomiting and nausea is so bad that it can cause kidney damage, Johnson-Arber said. A patient taking Ozempic Temporary dialysis is required After increasing the dose of his medication. Decreased kidney function Two additional persons taking Ozempic, although both had kidney disease from chronic diabetes, as did the other two who were taking GLP-1 agonists.

“Kidneys do the job of filtering urine and getting what we need [the] “The body,” Perkins explained. “You need water to flush through the kidneys. If you don’t have enough water, it starts to do damage.”

Experts recommend that people with existing kidney disease exercise caution when using GLP-1 agonists. See a doctor if you are taking one of these medications and experience severe and persistent nausea, vomiting, and other GI side effects. “It’s good to see if there’s more going on in some labs,” Johnson-Arber said.

A racing heartbeat can be another result of dehydration, Perkins said.


Many cases of acute Pancreatitis It has been reported in people taking GLP-1 agonists. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas – the primary gland involved in insulin production. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fever, rapid heart rate, and a distended and painful abdomen, as well as yellow skin and eyes.

“If you have pancreatitis, you may want to be careful when considering Ozempic, although it has occurred in people without a history,” Johnson-Arber said.

Possible risk of thyroid cancer

The researchers also observed a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma, but only in mice given the drug. Although it can be a risk in humans. The first GLP-1 agonists were approved 20 years ago, so we don’t have much data on long-term side effects, Johnson-Arbor said.

“People should be aware, this is a rare cancer that can take years to develop,” she added. “Do not take these medications if you have a history of thyroid disease.” It’s also possible that this cancer is unique to mice, which have large numbers of GLP-1 agonists in their thyroids, she added.

Signs of a thyroid tumor may include a lump in your throat, difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice, or shortness of breath.


According to Johnson-Arbor, gastroparesis is “also called delayed gastric emptying.” She explained that this is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach into your small intestine, even if there is no obstruction in the stomach or intestines.

It can make you feel full, making you more prone to nausea and vomiting, Sherman said, noting that gastroparesis and other GI effects go away after you stop taking the drug.

Source link

Jay M

Hi there, I'm Jay M, and I'm a journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth and sharing important stories with the world. I've spent years working for various publications, covering everything from politics and finance to social issues and human interest stories.