Created for people with type 2 diabetes, Trulicity is a once-weekly, injectable medication approved to help you better manage your blood sugar levels.
It can also assist in weight loss and in the prevention of stroke, heart attack, and premature death in both people with type 2 diabetes and with preexisting heart disease.
But what are the side effects of this medication, and how will it affect your daily life? This article will investigate everything you need to know about Trulicity’s side effects.
How does Trulicity work?
Trulicity is a name-brand medication with the active ingredient dulaglutide.
It is not insulin, and does not replace insulin, but it is often used in conjunction with insulin for better diabetes management.
Trulicity lowers blood sugars naturally by attaching to certain receptors on the cells of the pancreas. This signals the pancreas to release more insulin, thus combating high blood sugar.
At the same time, Trulicity stops the production of glucagon in the liver, preventing blood sugar spikes after eating, and increasing insulin sensitivity. It also slows digestion, leading to appetite suppression and, eventually, weight loss.
What are the side effects of Trulicity?
Trulicity may cause minor to moderate side effects, which is completely normal, especially when you first start taking it. These side effects can include:
- Suppressed appetite
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Redness, swelling, and bruising at the injection site
- Low blood sugar (especially if you also use insulin)
A few rare but serious side effects have been noted, including:
- Acute pancreatitis
- Severe allergic reaction
- Impaired kidney function
- Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
Additionally, the FDA released a black box warning about Trulicity’s use and its association with an increased risk of thyroid cancer. And, you should talk with your doctor before trying Trulicity if you suffer from gastroparesis or have chronic kidney disease (CKD), as Trulicity can make these conditions worse.
If you experience side effects that last more than a few weeks or even up to a month, or if they’re so debilitating you are having trouble with work, school, or maintaining a personal or social life, it is time to talk to your doctor about either weaning your dose or finding an alternative medication your body may adjust to better.
How can you mitigate the side effects of Trulicity?
If you’re struggling with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, make sure you are staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and consuming electrolytes (coconut water is excellent for this).
Make sure your blood sugar levels are staying within a healthy range. If they are consistently too high, you could fall into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be fatal if not treated.
Low blood sugar can be extremely dangerous as well, and is a special concern if you are also taking insulin.
To help manage nausea, stick to bland foods such as toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce, and drink plenty of clear liquids. If you become so nauseous that you are not able to keep down food or drink, call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention.
It is helpful to eat smaller, more frequent meals, and to always stop eating once you are full, even if you seem to be eating less than normal (this is expected).
You can also take over-the-counter nausea medication such as Dramamine, or talk to your doctor about a prescription for Zofran.
Does taking more Trulicity make the side effects worse?
The higher the dose of Trulicity, the more likely you are to experience side effects. In a clinical study with people taking higher-dose options, about 16% of trial participants experienced worsened nausea, which led to about 1% stopping the medication completely.
This is why it is important to always follow your doctor’s guidelines for taking Trulicity, and to never take more than is prescribed. This is especially true when you first start taking the medication. Your doctor will adjust your dose as your body gets used to the medication.
Do you have to take Trulicity with food?
No. Unlike insulin, Trulicity can be taken with or without food. While Trulicity lowers blood sugars over time, it does not cause acute low blood sugars in the way that insulin does.
The best time to take Trulicity is when you’ll remember to take it. Consistency is key.
However, if you struggle with nausea immediately after taking your Trulicity dose, it may help to eat a little something before injecting the medication, but this is not necessary.
Read more: Food to Avoid When Taking Trulicity
How do I know if I should stop taking Trulicity?
If the side effects of Trulicity are debilitating, and prevent you from living a normal life, let your doctor know. If the two of you decide to discontinue the medication, your doctor will probably wean your dosage levels over several weeks, instead of having you stop all at once.
If you’re thinking of stopping because you are not seeing any improvement in blood sugar levels or weight, you may want to wait. Improved blood sugar levels and weight loss are not immediately seen with any medication, including Trulicity.
Your doctor will probably recommend you give the medication several months to take full effect before you consider stopping it completely.
Who should not use Trulicity?
People who are allergic to dulaglutide should not take Trulicity. People who have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or multiple endocrine neoplasia should avoid using Trulicity as well.
And, of course, children who are under 18 years old should not take Trulicity unless they are prescribed the medication by a doctor. It is also not suitable for people who are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or who are breastfeeding.
Talk with your doctor if you currently live with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or have gastroparesis, as Trulicity can worsen these conditions.
Trulicity is also not intended for the treatment of prediabetes or type 1 diabetes.
Are there alternatives to Trulicity?
If you’re struggling with Trulicity, you should talk with your doctor about possible alternative medications that may cause you to experience fewer adverse side effects.
Some alternatives to Trulicity include:
- Ozempic (semaglutide)
- Mounjaro (tirzepatide)
- Victoza (liraglutide)
- Ryebelsus (semaglutide)
- Farxiga (dapagliflozin)
- Jardiance (empagliflozin)
- Fortamet or Glumetza (metformin)
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