Ozempic is one of the many injectable diabetes medications on the market today. While it’s similar to others on the market, it offers several unique details, too.
In this article, we’ll look at how Ozempic works, who can take it, and the most common side effects.
What is Ozempic?
Semaglutide — known under the brand name Ozempic and manufactured by Novo Nordisk — is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist.
Taken via injection once per week, Ozempic works to improve your blood sugar in several ways:
- Increases your body’s insulin sensitivity
- Reduces your appetite which can lead to weight loss
- Reduces the amount of glucose produced by your liver
- Delays the emptying of food from your stomach into the small intestine
In a clinical study, Ozempic reduced the patient’s A1c by 1.4 to 1.6 percent after 30 weeks of treatment. It also reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 41 to 44 mg/dL over that time period.
Who can take Ozempic?
Ozempic is only recommended for people living with non-insulin-dependent diabetes (typically type 2 diabetes). Ozempic is not a substitute for insulin.
Ozempic is not recommended as the first pharmaceutical treatment you try as a person with type 2 diabetes. Instead, medications like Metformin would be used first, and Ozempic could be an eventual choice if other options aren’t effective.
The dosage of Ozempic should start small and be increased gradually to the full dose over the course of 4 weeks. This should be managed closely by your healthcare team.
If you miss a dose, talk to your doctor as soon as you realize. Depending on how many days it’s been since your missed dose, you may be able to take it as soon as you remember. If it’s too close to your next Ozempic dose, you may be advised to wait until your next dose.
You should talk to your doctor before taking Ozempic if
- You have a history of problems with your pancreas or kidneys
- You have a history of diabetic retinopathy
- You are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon
- You are breastfeeding
You shouldn’t take Ozempic if
- You have a history of pancreatitis
- You are under 18 years old
- You have a history of thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer
- You or a family member ever had MTC or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
Common Ozempic side effects
According to the manufacturer, the most common and most harmless side effects of Ozempic include:
- Abdominal pain
These side effects are directly related to the drug’s impact on your stomach’s rate of digestion which benefits your blood sugars.
Serious (less common) Ozempic side effects
- Thyroid tumors — possibly cancerous
- Swelling in your neck
- Hoarseness in throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in your abdomen or back
- Changes in your vision
- Tell your healthcare team immediately
- Low blood sugar
- Discuss this with your doctor to adjust the dosage or other meds
- Worsened kidney issues and kidney failure
- Serious allergic reaction
- Difficulty breathing
The concern regarding thyroid tumors is based on the results of Ozempic and similar medications in rats and mice. Some rats and mice developed thyroid tumors, some of which were cancerous. It’s not known if Ozempic has this effect in humans.
Interested in using Ozempic for your own diabetes management? Talk to your doctor to determine whether this might be an appropriate medication for you.
I am on ozempic, did 4 weeks on 0.25mg then 4 weeks on 0.5 and now I am on 1mg. I have only had mild side effects because of the gradual increase with the side effects being worst for the first few days after each dose increase. I have had to stop eating after about 6 pm or my stomach is full when I go to bed. It has enabled me to massively/ almost completely stop using insulin and my blood glucose levels are constantly in the healthy range. I am trying to get back onto metformin but that really does mess with my guts. I am hoping to continue with both so that I can stay off insulin totally.
Been on ozempic for 10 weeks . Down 34 pounds . The side effects have been very manageable .
Brenda Straty says
My sister lost her life to this drug. Her Dr. Didn’t check out her family history. Doctors need to be more informed as to the side effects, or if there is history of cancer and heart conditions in families.
It should be the company and doctors who should be held responsible for the death of a patient.
Gary B. says
I am 67 years old, 6 feet tall 211 pounds, and I am a type 2 diabetic. I took my first dose of Ozempic .25 one week ago today. Prior to Ozempic I was on Lantis Solostar and my fasting blood sugar levels were consistently well below 100. Since starting the treatment my fasting blood sugar levels have ranged between 134 and 188. Is this normal, does this take some time to become effective? I am also taking 500mg of Metformin twice a day.
Christel Oerum says
It can take about a week for it to really kick in, however, that’s a large enough difference that I would suggest reaching out to your doctor and discuss if you need to change up the dose
Christy Heath Christoffersen says
I am on Ozempic and I was started slowly with .25 mg for four weeks then .50 mg for four weeks then now on the full 1 mg. The nausea was mild and I have lost some weight but because I feel full, not from the nausea. All of the people I have spoken to that couldn’t tolerate Ozempic were started on a higher dose so it’s no wonder they had such awful nausea. I hope those having this problem can try increasing the dose more slowly.
Stacey Engel says
I took ozempic and actually lost 8 pounds in 7 days due to the fact that I couldn’t eat from the nausea. It was the worst week of my life, followed by the 2nd worst week of my life. It’s been over a month since I took it and I still can’t eat certain foods without getting nauseous.
Vonn J says
Hello, I just started taking the Ozempic, I lost 5 lbs in my first week. How much total weight have you lost in the month of being on the med? The nausea is horrible I’ve only taken two injections, but will continue my journey. I am also type 2 diabetic.
Edward Lewis says
I went through the lower doses with no problems. However, now that I am on the full dose I vomit usually twice a day. This has gone on for 2 weeks now with no change. Hopeful that it will slow but after reading these comments I have to wonder.
Christel Oerum says
That doesn’t sound good. You might want to contact your doctor and let her/him know that you’re vomiting daily
I only had nausea the first day. I am down 17 pounds in 3 weeks.
Tobias Oerum says
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