Ozempic: An Innovative Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes
Time to read 8 min
Time to read 8 min
Ozempic treatment is one of the more innovative methods to lower blood sugar, making it a good option to help treat diabetes.
Let’s take an in-depth look at Ozempic and its mechanism of action, when and when not to take this drug, and the potential side effects you should expect.
We’ll also explain the physical conditions that can make you think twice before taking Ozempic and the drugs that you shouldn’t take with it.
Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, is an FDA-approved medication that is used to treat type 2 diabetes in adults.
Sometimes, it can be prescribed to help patients lose weight, especially during chronic weight management, since it can help the patient feel fuller, but this is an off-label use so it’s not approved for that purpose by the FDA.
Ozempic can improve blood sugar levels and also help in reducing the chance of major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
This drug is administered as a single injection per week, usually along with a controlled lifestyle, diet, and exercise.
Note: People with type 1 diabetes should not use Ozempic. The drug can cause reduced blood sugar, and patients with type 1 diabetes are already at risk of hypoglycemia.
Ozempic mimics the effects of GLP-1 (glucagon-like-peptide), a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. The effect of Ozempic appears in three primary ways:
Many patients who took this drug also reported that they had a reduced appetite for food, which is another indirect effect of the medication that helps in reducing the incoming food and, in return, reduces the blood sugar levels and helps with weight management.
Ozempic is often started with a small dose that is gradually increased every four weeks. The initial dose could be 0.25 mg, and then it may increase to 0.5 mg and then 1 mg.
Depending on your condition, the doctor will prescribe your first dose. The first couple of injections will mostly be administered by your doctor to monitor the effect of the drug on you.
A healthcare professional should tell you how you can inject yourself or have someone inject you at home. If that’s impossible for you, visiting the doctor weekly for your injection is always an option.
If you settle for home injection, you have three possible injection sites: the abdomen, the thigh, or the upper arm. You mustn’t inject in the same site two weeks in a row to avoid injection site complications.
Here’s what to keep in mind when you use Ozempic:
Like most medications, Ozempic has a list of side effects that you should keep in mind before using the medicine. Some of the most common side effects include:
The severity of these side effects is often mild, and their incidence also reduces with time. Nevertheless, you should report any side effects to your doctor, as you may sometimes underestimate a side effect that can soon become problematic or signal an allergic reaction.
There are also some serious side effects you should be aware of. If you experience the following, you should immediately contact your doctor or visit a hospital.
These side effects are:
Note: According to your current physical condition, your doctor may ask you to watch for additional side effects, as the list above isn’t complete.
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon, you should let your doctor know about it so they can weigh the benefits against the risks.
There isn’t enough evidence to tell whether Ozempic will harm your unborn baby.
Besides the unknown effect on the baby, Ozempic can cause reduced appetite and overall weight loss, which isn’t healthy during pregnancy.
If you’re already on Ozempic and planning to become pregnant, your doctor will ask you to stop the medication at least two months before pregnancy.
Ozempic is noticed to be excreted in animal breast milk, but there have been no human trials as of writing.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to refrain from taking Ozempic.
Although rarely, Ozempic can create vision distortions. This risk may increase if you already have eye problems, especially if they result from your diabetes, like retinopathy.
Most drugs are filtered through the kidney to be excreted in the urine later.
If you have kidney issues, your body might not filter Ozempic completely from your blood, which can increase the risk of side effects.
Ozempic causes the pancreas to secrete extra insulin, which isn’t a problem if your pancreas is healthy.
If you have issues with your pancreas, you should refrain from taking this drug.
Ozempic is injected weekly. If you forget to take the dose on the required day, you should administer the dose as soon as possible to get your blood sugar back in check.
If you miss your dose by five days, then it’s better to wait until the time of the next dose to avoid messing up your schedule and body chemistry.
Most importantly, keep in touch with your doctor during that period.
If you take an extra dose by mistake, you should immediately visit a hospital if you can. If not, you must call the Poison Control helpline (1-800-222-1222).
Overdosing might cause many side effects to appear at once. You should do your best to reach out for help before these effects start to show up.
Ozempic is a generally safe drug as long as you’re using it according to your doctor’s instructions, but it can sometimes have drug interactions with other drugs you use by accident.
Let your doctor know about any drugs you’re taking in general. It’s important to let them know if you’re taking any of the following drugs in particular:
While many drug interactions could be unpredictable, Ozempic will most definitely cause reduced blood sugar levels if taken with insulin.
If you’re already on insulin before taking Ozempic, you’ll likely have to reduce your insulin dose, which depends on your condition and your doctor’s opinion.
Drugs that belong to the sulfonylureas, like glipizide, glyburide, and metformin, work similarly to Ozempic. They cause more insulin secretion by the pancreas, which may dangerously reduce blood sugar levels.
You don’t have to completely stop taking sulfonylureas. Just let your doctor know so they can reduce your dose.
You’ll lose more fluid than usual if you take diuretics like bumetanide, furosemide, and ethacrynic acid.
Patients who take diuretics often do so to get rid of excess fluids. However, Ozempic and diuretics can interact and increase the risk or worsen already existing side effects of Ozempic.
Vomiting and diarrhea, in particular, are an extra risk because they already put you at risk of dehydration. Pair that with the diuretic effect, and you’ll lose a dangerous amount of fluids.
NSAIDs are among the most common pain medications to use, and some of them can be over-the-counter medicines. But they can increase the risk of kidney problems. If you’re taking Ozempic, NSAIDs might worsen existing side effects like diarrhea.
Unfortunately, some conditions are too painful to endure without pain medications. As such, you should inform your doctor so they can put you on different pain medications or at least monitor your condition for any side effects.
Beta-blockers are often used to treat high blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Some of the most common ones are propranolol, bisoprolol, and atenolol.
The primary issue with beta-blockers is that they can mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia. If you’re experiencing low blood sugar, you’d want to feel these symptoms as they are early signs.
Having these symptoms masked will allow the hypoglycemia to worsen. If it progresses to a hypoglycemic coma, it could be fatal.
These medications are also used to treat high blood pressure, but they don’t mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
However, they may interact with Ozempic and cause severe constipation. While that may not be as serious as beta-blockers, it’ll seriously affect your quality of life.
Ozempic is an overall safe drug that doctors prescribe both for handling type 2 diabetes and for overweight patients to help them manage their weight.
The drug has a list of potential side effects, but fortunately, most of these effects are rare, and the common ones are not unbearable.
However, care should be taken not to use this drug if you’re taking any of the medications we mentioned above. Also, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should refrain from using it.
Lastly, please ensure you take the appropriate dose at the appropriate time per week to avoid any dosage issues.
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