You’ve probably heard a lot about Ozempic and Wegovy, Semaglutide wonder drugs for weight loss.. Its new popularity among prescribers and online pharmacies has sparked a global shortage. Other diabetes medications are also being repurposed for weight loss: Wednesday, FDA approved Zepboundanother version of Mounjaro, for chronic weight control.
While Ozempic and Wegovy have different ingredients than Mounjaro and Zepbound, they work in a similar way. Semaglutide mimics a hormone called GLP-1 that is usually released when the body senses carbohydrates, proteins, and other lipids after a meal. This sends a message to the brain that you have eaten, changing hunger signaling activity. When the body thinks it is full, GLP-1 activates other systems to slow muscle contractions that would normally move food out of the stomach.
A weekly injection may seem like an easy option for weight loss, but doctors warn that these medications are not a perfect weight loss solution. Semaglutide carries a number of side effects ranging from uncomfortable to life-threatening, which can be even worse with off-label use of Wegovy or Ozempic.
What are common side effects of semaglutide?
Since semaglutide has a direct effect on the gastrointestinal tract, most side effects are related to the gastrointestinal tract. Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Weight Loss Surgical Center in California, says that about 50 percent of people who take Wegovy or Ozempic experience nausea. Other common side effects include constipation, diarrhea, or cramps. People who overeat while following the regimen may experience more severe nausea and even vomiting. Additionally, although not as common as the other gastrointestinal side effects, Ali mentions that there is a possibility of experiencing dizziness while taking Ozempic. This may be due to the blood sugar-lowering effects of the drug.
“These symptoms tend to disappear over time as patients continue on their medications. The body adapts (to the drug),” Ali says. She adds that people prescribed Ozempic or Wegovy often start at a lower dose and eventually increase to avoid jarring side effects.
If you feel nauseous, The creators of Ozempic advise Eat more slowly and switch to bland, low-fat foods, such as crackers and plain toast. People should also eat soups and jellies, which contain large amounts of water. After meals, drink ice water and avoid lying down.
What are the most dangerous side effects?
Since large numbers of people began using semaglutide for weight loss off-label, doctors have been documenting more concerning reactions. New research published in he Journal of the American Medical Association links Ozempic to gastroparesis, a chronic condition that severely weakens the muscles in the stomach wall, making it difficult to push food into the small intestine. The inability to empty stomach contents can delay the digestive process and induce regular episodes of nausea and diarrhea. While there are surgical and non-surgical ways to manage gastroparesis, there is currently no cure for it.
Taking into account that there has only been some documented cases of gastroparesis With the use of Ozempic, Ali says the chances of this happening are relatively rare and “not something you typically see in patients.” But as demand for the drug continues to rise, more cases may come to light. In addition to stomach paralysis, other limited but serious side effects of Ozempic include pancreatitis, renal problemsand gallbladder problems.
Can semaglutide cause suicidal thoughts?
A growing number of people around the world have also reported suicidal thoughts while taking Ozempic. After receiving 150 reports of suicidal ideation and self-harm, the European Medicines Agency is reviewing the diabetes drug’s safety data. He United Kingdom It is also reviewing all medications classified as GLP-1 agonists, including Ozempic, after an increase in the incidence of self-destructive thoughts. In the United States, some people have spoken openly about experiencing suicidal ideation while taking Ozempicdespite having no history of self-harm.
Some of the mental health concerns are unprecedented. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any chronic weight management medication that works on the central nervous system to carry a warning about suicidal ideation and behavior. Wegovy has a warning about suicidal ideation, but Ozempic, intended solely to control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, does not. It is unclear what the link between these medications and suicidal thoughts is, but it is hypothesized that neuropsychiatric side effects arise when semaglutide interacts with the brain to control appetite.
“The question is: Should the same medication under a different name have the same caution regarding suicidal ideation?” says Joseph Barrera, endocrinologist and associate medical director at Providence Mission Hospital in California. He adds that the likelihood of developing self-destructive thoughts while taking Ozempic appears to occur more in people with a history of depression or other psychological problems, a potential safety issue since some psychiatrists now prescribe medications. Ozempic for depression.
In general, cases of suicidal ideation are largely anecdotal and relatively rare. As of September 2023, the 23,845 reports of adverse reactions with semaglutide In the United States there have been 144 cases of suicidal ideation and 2 deaths by suicide. As Barrera points out, it is still unclear how many of these cases involved Ozempic versus Wegovy.
What to consider if you take Ozempic or Wegovy for weight loss
Barrera has advice for people considering using Ozempic or Wegovy off-label: Don’t do it. The risks of taking the medication, including suicidal ideation, are too high. What’s more, Barrera warns that some people have been paying providers and clinics for “compounded semaglutide,” which involves mixing several medications. According to the fdaPeople who make compounded semaglutide use a salt form, such as semaglutide sodium or semaglutide acetate, which does not contain the same active ingredient as Ozempic and Wegovy.
Another factor to consider is affordability, as insurance companies are unlikely to pay for unauthorized use of either medication. Ozempic requires weekly injections and can cost around $900 per injection without signal. It is also designed to be taken long-term, so skipping the medication for even a week can lead to food cravings and weight gain.
In general, semaglutide may be helpful in managing weight and improving your health if you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. “It’s another tool to help lead a healthy lifestyle, and like any other tool, it works well if used correctly,” Ali says. He advises people using weight-loss medications to consider them as a complement, not a substitute, for diet and exercise. Without combining the two, people won’t see many of the desired results, she adds. “They are better medications than we’ve had before, but nothing is perfect.”