Ozempic has gained attention recently in the media, thanks to American celebrities using it to help aid with their weight loss. This might make you wonder if you can get your hands on it for the same reasons. However, Ozempic isn’t actually approved for weight loss in the UK — but it does have other uses.
This article is going to take a closer look at what Ozempic is, what it should be used for, and the Ozempic side effects that you need to look out for.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a prescription medication primarily used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It is taken in the form of an injection and contains the active ingredient semaglutide.
The medication itself is provided in the form of a disposable, injectable pen that can be used at home. The pens are also pre-filled with the dosage, so it won’t need to be measured out beforehand.
It’s also recommended that the injection site is changed each time it is injected — swapping between the thighs, abdomen, and upper arm can make it easy.
While you may be familiar with Ozempic being used for weight loss in the States, in the UK, it’s actually used for supporting people with type 2 diabetes. Although it’s been used in the US to aid with weight loss, again, Ozempic’s primary use is helping people with type 2 diabetes.
When you take Ozempic to help with your type 2 diabetes, it can allow you to manage your blood sugar levels easier. However, you do need to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle too. Ozempic isn’t prescribed to people with type 1 diabetes though, as it’s not shown to have a positive impact on this type.
Discover more in our complete guide to Ozempic.
Most common Ozempic side effects
Like any medication, Ozempic may cause side effects. The side effects can range from mild to more serious complications, so it’s important that you know what to look out for.
When you’re prescribed Ozempic, your doctor should inform you of any side effects and possibly provide you with ways to alleviate them too.
Here are the most common Ozempic side effects.
Mild side effects
The mild side effects of Ozempic can be — but aren’t limited to:
- Stomach pain
While these can be unpleasant, they aren’t anything to worry about most of the time.
Other medication can be prescribed or advised for these other side effects too, and some of them can be solved naturally — for example, constipation can be alleviated by eating high-fibre foods.
These mild Ozempic side effects usually dissipate after a couple of weeks, so you shouldn’t have to put up with them for very long.
Serious side effects
There are some serious side effects of Ozempic that you need to be aware of as well.
Serious Ozempic side effects can include:
- Nausea that doesn’t go away or gets worse
- Inflammation of the pancreas leading to pancreatitis
- Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels)
- Problems with your gallbladder such as inflammation and gallstones
If you experience any of these, seek medical assistance right away and speak to your doctor.
You can also have an allergic reaction to Ozempic. If this happens, you need to dial 999 right away and stop taking the medicine.
Signs of an allergic reaction to Ozempic can present as:
- Severe rash
- Swelling of the face, lips, throat, or tongue
- Problems with your breathing or swallowing
- Feeling dizzy or fainting
- A fast heartbeat
An allergic reaction needs to be treated immediately, so make sure you seek emergency medical assistance as soon as possible.
Tips for managing side effects
Your doctor may prescribe you anti-sickness medication if you find that the nausea is becoming too much for you, as it can help ease this side effect.
Your nausea should go away on its own, and this normally takes only a couple of days. If you don’t want to deal with nausea in your first week of taking Ozempic, ask your doctor if they can prescribe or recommend any medications that can help ease it.
It’s important to note that nausea lasting longer than a week requires medical attention, as it could be a sign of pancreatitis.
Gas and excessive burping can be side effects of Ozempic, and the most common solution for these is dietary changes. Avoiding foods that increase the production of gas in the body can be a great way to ease these side effects.
Heartburn can also be a possible side effect, and to negate it you may be offered over-the-counter antacid medication.
Warnings for Ozempic
Ozempic has something called a “boxed warning”. This is an American term that’s given to medications like this by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ozempic’s boxed warning is in relation to a potentially increased risk of thyroid cancer.
Ozempic has been shown to cause thyroid cancer in animals, but it’s unknown if it does this in humans yet. So, if you have any history — familial or personal — of thyroid cancer, then you shouldn’t take Ozempic. Be sure to speak to your doctor about this if you’re concerned.
Who can’t use Ozempic?
There are other medical conditions that can be a contraindication when it comes to taking Ozempic.
For example, if you have kidney disease, you may not be a suitable candidate for Ozempic, as it could may your kidney problems worse. It’s important that you let your doctor know of any kidney problems you may have before taking Ozempic, as it could cause you further issues.
If you’re already taking an insulin-increasing medication or insulin shots already, then Ozempic might not be for you. Taking Ozempic on top of these could lead to hypoglycaemia — and this can be severe and become life-threatening, which is why it’s important to discuss any current insulin medication with your doctor beforehand.
At the moment, it’s unknown if pregnant people can take Ozempic, so always make sure to seek guidance from your doctor before taking it.
Ozempic side effects: key takeaways
When it comes to the side effects of Ozempic, they can range from mild to severe — meaning it’s crucial that you know the difference so you can look after your health.
As Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss in the UK, you’ll most likely only be prescribed it when you’ve got type 2 diabetes. When it becomes a regular part of your healthcare routine, you need to be aware of the side effects, and always contact your doctor if you don’t feel right.
If you experience any of the severe side effects of Ozempic, make sure you seek emergency medical advice by dialling 999.