How Long Do Ozempic Side Effects Last?

Medically reviewed by Erika Prouty, PharmD

Ozempic (semaglutide) is an injectable medication that belongs to the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist drug class. It is also part of a larger group of diabetes medications called incretin mimetics.

Like many medications, Ozempic carries risks, including side effects. The most common side effects usually decrease or go away with time.

Nausea, vomiting, and other stomach upset side effects commonly occur during the first few weeks of treatment or after your dose increases.

This article will discuss the side effects to expect with Ozempic, how to manage side effects, and other important safety information.

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Common Side Effects of Ozempic

Due to the effects of Ozempic on stomach emptying and digestion, most of the drug’s common side effects are related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

In Ozempic’s clinical trials, the most common adverse reactions were:

How Long Do Side Effects of Ozempic Last?

Ozempic's side effects are most noticeable when you start treatment or after a dose increase.

GI-related side effects most commonly occur during the first four weeks of treatment and tend to decrease over time.

Side Effects Following Dose Increase

Side effects may also worsen with sudden escalation of therapy.

In clinical trials, people took either 1 or 2 milligrams (mg) of Ozempic. The results showed that GI-related side effects occurred more frequently among people receiving a higher dose.

Nausea is typically mild to moderate and disappears after the dose escalation phase. For better tolerability, you should wait to increase your dose.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and dosing schedule.

Less Common Side Effects

Less common side effects seen in Ozempic trials include:

Managing Side Effects of Ozempic

Various strategies can provide relief when managing GI side effects with Ozempic. The following are tips for preventing or managing GI symptoms:

  • Consuming smaller meals can help manage or prevent nausea and upset stomach.

  • For nausea, consider dietary changes, such as avoiding fizzy drinks.

  • For constipation, increasing fiber and water intake may offer relief.

  • Stool softeners may also help with constipation.

Overall, limiting or avoiding certain types of foods and drinks may help prevent or reduce digestive side effects.

Consider moderating your intake of:

  • Carbonated beverages

  • Alcohol

  • Fried foods

  • Spicy foods

For persistent or severe GI effects, tell your healthcare provider. They may recommend holding off on increasing your does until the side effects subside. In severe cases, they’ll likely have you stop taking the medication.

Safety and Precautions

The safety of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, was tested in the SUSTAIN clinical trials.

During these trials, the most common side effects were related to the gastrointestinal system. The majority of participants reported experiencing mild to moderate nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, over time, most people noticed an improvement in these symptoms.

Although Ozempic is generally considered safe, there are a few precautions to consider before starting treatment.

Boxed Warning

Ozempic carries a boxed warning for the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors observed in studies of mice and rats. A boxed warning is the most severe safety-related warning a drug can have, as designated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is unknown whether Ozempic causes thyroid C-cell tumors in humans.

For this reason, Ozempic is not recommended for use in people with a heightened risk of thyroid cancer, including people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

Other Precautions

In addition, people with the following conditions may need to be monitored extra cautiously if they take Ozempic treatment:

Additionally, Ozempic isn’t recommended during pregnancy. If you are planning to become pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider.

They’ll recommend stopping Ozempic at least two months before trying to conceive.

Who Should Not Take Ozempic?

Ozempic is usually prescribed as a long-term treatment. You can continue taking it for as long as your healthcare provider prescribes it, assuming it is safe and effective.

However, Ozempic may not be safe for everyone.

Healthcare providers typically do not recommend this medication for individuals with an increased risk of thyroid cancer or those who’ve had an allergic reaction to semaglutide or any other ingredients in Ozempic.

Potential Drug Interactions

Ozempic can interact with other medications. Due to Ozempic’s delayed effect on gastric emptying, Ozempic may reduce the absorption of certain oral medications.

Also, Ozempic may lead to hypoglycemia if taken with certain diabetes medications, including:

Typically, if you are taking insulin therapy, your healthcare provider may recommend a decrease in your insulin dose to lower the risk of low blood sugar while taking Ozempic.

To help avoid harmful interactions, it’s important to tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about everything you take, including nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and dietary supplements.

Summary

More and more people are using Ozempic to manage type 2 diabetes and lose weight—a once-a-week injection that starts with a low dose and then gradually increases.

The most common side effects of Ozempic are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms associated with an upset stomach.

These side effects typically occur within the first four weeks of starting the medication and tend to ease over time.

When taking Ozempic, adjusting your diet may prevent or lessen some side effects. Consider reducing meal size, avoiding eating as soon as you feel full, and not eating when you aren’t hungry.

If the side effects persist or become severe, consult a healthcare provider for guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a connection between Ozempic and cancer development?

Ozempic has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rodents and carries a boxed warning on its label about this risk.

It isn’t known if this medication increases the risk of thyroid tumors in humans. Out of caution, Ozempic is not recommended for people who already have a high risk of thyroid cancer due to certain conditions in their medical history or family history.

Is low blood sugar ever a concern while taking Ozempic?

Ozempic does not commonly cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), but the risk increases when used in combination with insulin or certain diabetes medications, such as glipizide.

It may be necessary to monitor your blood glucose more frequently when starting or increasing your dose of Ozempic.

If hypoglycemia occurs, your healthcare provider may recommend reducing your insulin dose or other diabetes medications.

How should I adjust my diet while taking Ozempic?

While taking Ozempic, you should follow diet recommendations made by your healthcare provider.

They may suggest a registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help you with a personalized nutrition plan.

Limiting your intake of fizzy beverages, alcohol, high-fat foods, and spicy foods may help reduce nausea-related side effects with Ozempic.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.