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

The weight-loss drug Ozempic burst into public consciousness last year, and the desire for the drug fueled by social media has led to Shortage for patients with type 2 diabetes..

Now, people are increasingly recognizing the drug’s side effects, which can include loose skin, known as the “Ozempic face.”

“Any rapid weight loss will decrease the volume of fat in many parts of the body, especially the face, leading to sagging tissue and skin,” said Dr. Lyle Leipziger, chief of plastic surgery at the Hospital of the North Shore University and the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. . “Slow, progressive weight loss can allow facial skin to retract, so it’s not as detrimental as rapid weight loss.”

Recent articles in People Y the new york times keep in mind that the unwanted side effect can be fixed, but often with expensive fillers and cosmetic surgery.

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

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

Most of the side effects have been documented in clinical trials of people taking the drug for an approved purpose, said Dr. Latasha Seliby Perkins, a family physician in Washington, DC, and a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. We don’t necessarily know what happens in those who take these drugs because they want to lose a small amount of weight, which is not one of their FDA-approved uses.

Ozempic (a 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 medically considered overweight or obese.

So, in 2021, the Food and Drug Administration gave another approval, this time for weight loss, but only in people with a body mass index of 27 or higher with at least one related health condition and those with a BMI of 30 or more. The drug’s trade name was changed to Wegovy and higher maximum doses were approved.

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

Shortage of medicines for people who really need it

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 using the drug. This has created a shortage for the people who need it most and should be taking it: people with type 2 diabetes.

“When there’s a weight loss component in a drug, it’s beneficial for people who have type 2 diabetes,” Perkins said. Not necessarily for other people.

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

Recently, funny chelsea manager he said he didn’t even know the drug he was taking to lose 5 pounds was Ozempic. She (she stopped using it when she realized she was not a candidate for the drug).

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

For those who find the multiple folds and fine print intimidating, take heart. You really only need to scan the beginning, Johnson-Arbor said.

“The first page is usually a good place for an overview,” he said. At the top is a box with important health warnings (such as cancer), then more warnings and adverse reactions.

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

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

Gastrointestinal symptoms are among the most common side effects of GLP-1 agonists, Johnson-Arbor said. This is not surprising given that Ozempic, Wegovy, and other similar drugs act on various aspects of the digestive system. “Your GI tract is a little bit 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 Ozempic. They were taking a placebo. Vomiting and diarrhea were less common, but still occurred in about 9% of people who received the 1 mg dose compared to 2% who took a placebo.

Diarrhea and vomiting can cause another unwanted effect: dehydration. “When you’re vomiting, your body has to use part of its water source to get the food out,” Perkins explained. “Same with diarrhea.”

Often these effects are mild, but they can cause people to stop taking the drug, Sherman said. The best indicator of how hydrated you are is your urine output: You need to go to the bathroom once every hour or two. If that decreases to every three to four hours, call your doctor’s office for advice. Less often than that, visit urgent care or an emergency room, Perkins said. And always hydrate.

For people who received the 1 mg dose, 6% reported abdominal pain and 3% reported constipation.

kidney damage

Sometimes dehydration from vomiting and nausea is so severe that it can lead to kidney damage, Johnson-Arbor said. A patient taking Ozempic needed temporary dialysis after increasing your dose of medication. Kidney function decreased in two additional people taking Ozempic, although both had underlying kidney disease due to longstanding diabetes, as did two others who were taking GLP-1 agonists.

“The kidneys do the job of filtering the urine and taking in the things it needs to [the] body,” Perkins explained. “You need water to flow through the kidneys. If you don’t have enough water, it starts causing damage.”

Experts recommend that people with existing kidney disease use caution when using GLP-1 agonists. If you are taking one of these medications and experience severe and persistent nausea, vomiting, and other GI side effects, consult a physician. “It’s a good idea to get some lab work done to see if anything else is going on,” Johnson-Arbor said.

A fast heartbeat can be another consequence of dehydration, Perkins said.


several acute cases pancreatitis have been reported in people taking GLP-1 agonists. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, the main gland involved in the production of insulin. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fever, rapid heart rate, and a distended and painful belly, as well as yellow skin and eyes.

“If you have a history of pancreatitis, you may want to be careful when considering Ozempic, although it has also occurred in people with no history,” Johnson-Arbor said.

Possible risk of thyroid cancer

Researchers have also seen a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma, but only in rodents that received the drug. Although it could be a risk in humans. The first GLP-1 agonist was only approved 20 years ago, so we don’t have a lot of data on long-term side effects, Johnson-Arbor said.

“People need to be aware, this is a rare cancer that could take years to develop,” he continued. “Do not take these medications if you have a history of thyroid disease.” It’s also possible that this cancer is unique to rodents, which have large amounts of GLP-1 agonists in their thyroid, he added.

Signs of thyroid tumors may be a lump in the throat, difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice, or difficulty breathing.


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

While this can also make you feel full, it is more likely to cause nausea and vomiting, Sherman said, adding that gastroparesis and other GI effects seem to go away after stopping the drug.

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