Semaglutide is the active ingredient in Wegovy.
Keep reading to find out the different possible side effects, how long they usually last, and advice on managing them.
Just like other GLP-1 agonists, the most common side effects of taking semaglutide affect the stomach and digestive tract. More than 1 in 10 people may experience:
|Very common side effects|
In addition to these are some common side effects. These normally affect 1 in 10 people taking semaglutide:
|Common side effects|
Inflammation of the stomach is known as gastritis. It is one of the commonly reported side effects of patients taking Semaglutide:
Signs of gastritis include:
Overall, these side effects are completely normal and easy to manage. In the majority of cases, any side effects you initially feel will disappear as your body adjusts to the treatment.
If you’re feeling concerned about managing your side effects, keep reading to find out how you can easily improve your experience on semaglutide.
It is also important to familiarise yourself with the rare side effects of semaglutide.
Whilst it is unlikely that you will experience them, being able to recognise the symptoms of a serious condition means that you can get medical help more quickly.
The table below outlines the rare conditions that may occur when taking semaglutide:
|Rare side effects|
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is a risk in patients with type 2 diabetes. You may be at an increased risk if you are taking diabetes medication such as sulfonylureas or insulin.
If you experience any of the following, eat something high in sugar and then check your blood sugar in 10-15 minutes:
Being able to recognise the signs of low blood sugar means you can get medical help before your condition becomes critical.
In rare cases, semaglutide can cause gallbladder problems such as gallstones. These can be very painful and sometimes need surgery.
Speak to a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following:
If you suffer from kidney problems, your condition may worsen due to common side effects such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
Dr. Sarah Donald
“Not only will drinking water maintain the function of your kidneys, but it will improve your digestion, brain function, and can help you feel fuller between meals.”
It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to avoid possible kidney failure.
Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) causes severe stomach pain that might reach through to your back.
If you feel persistent abdominal pain, you must stop treatment and seek medical assistance.
In rare circumstances, experts have linked semaglutide to thyroid and pancreatic cancers.
Whilst there hasn’t been conclusive evidence in humans,taken on mice and rats proved semaglutide to have potential thyroid cancer risks.
There is no conclusive evidence for pancreatic cancer from clinical trials, but it is still considered a potential risk, particularly in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Consult your doctor if you experience any of the following:
Do not use semaglutide if you have a family history of thyroid cancer, or if you have a condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome (MEN 2) which causes tumours on the endocrine glands.
In the rare instance that you are allergic to semaglutide, it’s important to know the signs of an allergic reaction so you know when to seek medical attention.
Any of the following could be an indication of an allergy:
Do not hesitate to call an ambulance if you think you could be suffering from a severe allergic reaction.
Usually, common side effects go away over time as your body adapts to being on semaglutide. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the side effects and the individual.
However, they may return when you increase the strength of your dose. Once again, these side effects should be temporary and will clear once your body readjusts to the new dose.
In rarer cases, some side effects might persist for the duration of your treatment.
After finishing treatment, you may need to wait as long as 5 weeks for your side effects to fully clear. However, your body may clear the drug entirely from its system quicker than this.
Speak to your doctor if you are struggling to manage persistent side effects.
To manage your initial nausea and other gastric side effects, you can make some small changes to your diet.
By cutting out food groups that are harder to digest, you can reduce your risk of having stomach upset and indigestion. Fatty foods and sugary foods are the worst culprits.
When taking semaglutide, it is best to try:
Some foods that reduce nausea can also be added to your diet. These include:
Some over-the-counter medications may also help to manage gastric side effects. For acid reflux, you can try taking antacids, and for general nausea, you can try antiemetic tablets.
Always consult your doctor before taking any additional medication during your semaglutide treatment.
Reducing your semaglutide dosage is also likely to help manage your side effects.
If you find yourself struggling with side effects after increasing your dose, drop down to the dose below for another 4 weeks.
After this you can attempt to increase the dose once again. If you still find yourself experiencing unmanageable side effects, remain on the lower dose for the duration of your treatment.
A guide to prescription weight loss treatments How do I administer injections for weight loss?Reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho
A guide to prescription weight loss treatments An introduction to GLP-1 agonists for weight lossReviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho
A guide to prescription weight loss treatments Side effects of Liraglutide and how to manage themReviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
A guide to prescription weight loss treatments Semaglutide: what to expect and whenReviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
A guide to prescription weight loss treatments What semaglutide dose should I take?Reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho