What Are Ozempic Side Effects?
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Ozempic is one of the most popular diabetes drugs of the 21st century, but not for treating diabetes. Since 2022, Ozempic has been used off-label as a weight-loss drug, and many people have seen tangible results that support this use.
However, many have reported that this weight loss came at the cost of multiple side effects that include nausea, digestive issues, and a gaunt look known as “Ozempic face.”
In this article, we’ll break down the different Ozempic side effects and how to avoid or minimize them.
Ozempic’s most popular side effects are gastrointestinal, mainly involving the stomach and/or the intestines. Not everyone who uses Ozempic experiences these side effects, but they’re the most reported and discussed ones.
Ozempic’s main gastrointestinal side effects include:
However, most patients experienced these side effects only at the beginning of treatment or when they increased the dose.
According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration) reports, the likelihood of getting gastrointestinal side effects almost doubles each time the dose increases.
For example, during clinical trials, patients taking the lowest dose of Ozempic (1 mg) reported feeling nausea at a rate of 20.3%. However, when they took the higher dose of 2.4 mg, the rate of nausea almost doubled to 44.2%.
Also, at the maximum dose of Ozempic, almost 74% of the patients reported at least one of the gastrointestinal side effects.
However, since Ozempic is taken once a week, the side effects are usually strongest during the first couple of days following the injection and then get milder.
Remember that with time, your body starts getting used to Ozempic, and these side effects become much rarer. This is why most healthcare providers recommend that you stick with it to the best of your ability.
Here are several things that can help you manage the gastrointestinal side effects of Ozempic.
Some people taking Ozempic have complained about belching more than usual and that their burps had a foul, sulfurous smell.
This rotten-egg-like odor was eventually coined Ozempic Burps, and although it’s not quite as common as gastrointestinal side effects, it’s still a possibility.
A few studies have suggested that the Ozempic Burps, much like the gastrointestinal side effects, were worse at the start of treatment and when the dosage was increased.
In July 2023, CNN reported that some people taking Ozempic developed gastroparesis, which means their stomachs became temporarily paralyzed. According to the report, some people stopped taking Ozempic, but they still didn’t get better for a few months, although those were very few cases.
Delayed gastric emptying, or gastroparesis, means the patients weren’t digesting food as efficiently as they should, and even the digested food wasn’t moving along their gastrointestinal tracts fast enough.
When food stays in your stomach longer than it should, you start experiencing gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Gastroparesis makes it difficult to eat or drink anything, which puts you at an increased risk of dehydration and malnutrition. However, this only happens in cases of severe gastroparesis, which were extremely rare during clinical trials.
Mild gastroparesis, on the other hand, is considered a benefit rather than a side effect. It curbs hunger and helps you eat less, making it easier to lose weight.
Another severe -but relatively rare- side effect of Ozempic is ileus, which means temporary intestinal paralysis. Normally, your intestines have involuntary muscles that contract to move the food along the intestinal tract.
When an ileus occurs, the food can stop moving, which causes a temporary blockage in your intestines. This causes constipation, bloating, and even dehydration in some cases.
However, ileus is one of the rarer side effects of Ozempic, and it hasn’t affected the FDA’s safety ratings for the drug.
In January of 2023, social media was buzzing with talk about Ozempic’s latest side effects: Ozempic Face and “Ozempic Butt.”
People taking Ozempic for some time started noticing their faces and buttocks becoming more saggy, with loose or deflated skin.
This happens because Ozempic causes rapid, extreme weight loss in the face, buttocks, and curvier areas of the body. This side effect can happen with almost any drug that causes severe weight loss in a short period, not just Ozempic.
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye condition that starts with blurry vision and leads to blindness. People with diabetes have a greater risk of diabetic retinopathy, especially if they have uncontrolled high blood sugar.
During clinical trials, scientists found that Ozempic may slightly increase your chances of diabetic retinopathy.
Strangely enough, even though Ozempic lowers your blood sugar level -being an anti-diabetes drug- the rapid lowering effect can negatively impact your eyesight. As your blood sugar levels become stable, the likelihood of developing vision problems decreases with time.
However, even if the effects are temporary, it’s important to speak to your doctor if you have any risk factors for diabetic retinopathy, such as:
When you open a box of Ozempic, you’ll see a huge black box with a warning on the inner pamphlet saying Ozempic may cause thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer.
This warning is based on animal studies where rats given Ozempic had an increased risk of developing thyroid tumors. This theory has never been tested nor proven with humans, but you should still be aware of this potential side effect.
To be safe, you should not use Ozempic if you or anyone in your family has a history of thyroid cancer or tumors.
Contact your doctor right away if you’ve been taking Ozempic and notice any of the following symptoms:
Like most anti-diabetes medications, there’s always a chance Ozempic might lower your blood sugar levels or cause hypoglycemia. For people with diabetes, this can be considered a therapeutic advantage rather than a side effect.
However, if you’re already taking other medications, such as insulin therapy or oral antidiabetic drugs, be careful when you start Ozempic. You might develop severe hypoglycemia, where your blood sugar drops dangerously low, causing low glucose supply to your brain or other organs.
There have been very few cases of people having a serious allergic reaction after taking Ozempic. However, this only happens when your body is allergic to the active ingredient, semaglutide.
That means that any drug containing that active ingredient will result in the same allergic reaction, not just Ozempic.
That’s why it’s important to check for signs of an allergic reaction when you first start using this weight-loss drug. Some of the most important signs and symptoms to look for include:
Since Ozempic is officially FDA-approved for treating diabetes, its weight loss effect is considered a side effect or an off-label use.
During clinical trials, Ozempic’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, noticed that patients taking the drug to control their blood sugar started losing weight. More specifically, they lost about 9.3 to 14.1 pounds in over 40 weeks
This sparked Ozempic’s widespread off-label use for obese and overweight individuals.
However, remember that to get the best out of Ozempic’s weight loss abilities, you still need to follow a proper diet and exercise plan.
After reading all of these potential side effects, it’s perfectly normal to reconsider taking Ozempic. However, keep in mind that most of these side effects are either extremely rare, while the common ones are generally manageable.
Before starting the medication, you should compare the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Some of Ozempic’s benefits include:
Also, keep in mind that if your doctor decides you shouldn’t take Ozempic, then other popular weight-loss medications, such as Wegovy, will likely be out of the question, as well.
Hopefully, with the information in this article, you now know what to expect on your Ozempic weight loss journey and how to safely deal with its side effects.
If you’re considering Ozempic as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, you should check with your doctor to keep your condition monitored.
However, if you rely on insulin therapy to manage your diabetes, then you should check out the InsuJet V5 Injector for pain-free, needle-free insulin delivery.