Side Effects Of Semaglutide

Side Effects Of Semaglutide
8 Jan 2024
8 minutes
Table Of Content
Side Effects Of Semaglutide

    Opening New Doors in Diabetes Care and Weight Control: The sweet secret behind semaglutide


    Certain advancements in the healthcare sector create excitement out of medical journals and make us realize the innovative world we live in! One such discovery is semaglutide.

    Semaglutide is a Glucagon-like peptide receptor agonist [GLP-1] that was initially approved for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, which later gained a red carpet welcome for its ability as a potential game changer in weight loss management. In June 2017, the FDA approved semaglutide in the management of diabetes mellitus; it was not too late to recognize its other true potential; in 2021, the FDA approved it for the management of weight loss. It quickly became the talk of the town among obese individuals and ultimately gained attention worldwide. Let's dive in and get some insights about this new horizon and, of course, the other side of the coin, the less spoken side effects this carries.


    Know the numbers


    As of now, semaglutide is effective in managing diabetes mellitus and obesity. The global prevalence of diabetes mellitus is about 422 million, responsible for at least 1.5 million direct deaths; as far as obesity is concerned, the prevalence is about 1 billion, and the values are expected to peak as Everest in upcoming years.


    Working action of semaglutide


    There is a naturally occurring amino acid peptide hormone in the intestinal cells of the body called glucagon-like peptide. Semaglutide is designed to mimic the action of this hormone and produce two specific actions. 

    1. Increased insulin release- In response to elevated blood glucose levels, semaglutide stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin and plays a vital role in reducing blood glucose levels.
    2. Cutting down the appetite: Semaglutide delays gastric emptying so that food stays longer in your stomach and reduces the urge to eat. It also acts in certain areas of the brain that regulate hunger and fullness. It is also said to be a silent aid in reducing cravings for sweets and contributes to reducing appetite.

    Who should take semaglutide?


    As mentioned, semaglutide is prescribed for type 2 diabetes mellitus management, but poses an upper hand in weight loss management in obese patients and  it is often exploited. Semaglutide is not for everyone. There is are classified criteria formulated in accordance with Body mass index [BMI] for usage:

    • Adults:
    1. A BMI of 30 or greater
    2. BMI of 27 or greater with at least one underlying health condition such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus, High blood pressure, Hyperlipidemia
    • Adolescents: Initial BMI at 95 percent or greater for the age and sex.

    Exploring the dark cave: side effects of semaglutide


    Semaglutide is mainly prescribed with the intention of adjuvant therapy for weight loss management, along with reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity. Still, it is frequently considered and used as a sole treatment approach, making people take a pill and sit idle for weight loss, causing unwanted side effects. 

    Gastrointestinal side effects are the most frequent and disturbing ones among semaglutide intake. Some of them include:

    1. Nausea and vomiting : It is the most common side effect of people taking semaglutide. However, this is proportional to the dose you are taking and progresses as your doctor increases the dose rapidly. This condition improves over time as your body gets used to the drug.

    2. Diarrhea: another common side effect you can experience during semaglutide is frequent diarrhea. However, it is mild and manageable.

    3. Fatigue: Semaglutide reduces hunger, which aids in weight loss. Additionally, cutting back on calories may make you feel more exhausted. Fatigue should gradually go as your body adapts to any dietary changes you may make.

    4. Gas, bloating, and burping: Another common side effect you may experience is a feeling of bloating, frequent burps, and gas. If left unnoticed they may develop as heartburn, acid reflux leading to GERD. However, they can be settled with oral antacids and avoiding foods that provoke this cause.

    5. Ozempic face: Taking semaglutide for weight loss can, of course, cause the desired effect, but the thing to note is that significant weight loss can also cause loss of facial fat. This tends to change the appearance of your face, causing it to look saggy and shrink, making you look older.

    6. Weight rebound effect: Semaglutide is a long-term medication bound to be taken for longer periods to achieve the desired result; any discontinuation without your doctor's approval can cause a swirl in the body - rebound weight gain.

    7. Low blood glucose: As mentioned, semaglutide is an antidiabetic drug that increases insulin secretion to lower blood glucose levels; combining it with other antidiabetic medications such as insulins and sulfonylureas, further decreases blood glucose, causing shaking and sweating.

    8. Gallbladder diseases: Although not common, semaglutide can also cause gallstones, cholecystitis, and growth of tissues in the gallbladder.

    Myths and Facts 


    Myth: You will lose weight by taking a pill without diet and exercise

    Fact: No, semaglutide is an adjuvant therapy. Along with a calorie deficit and proper physical activity, you will lose weight. It is not a magic pill.

    Myth: You can stop semaglutide once weight loss is achieved. 

    Fact: No, with proper consultation with your healthcare provider, it should be continued even if you achieve results since it may cause rebound weight gain.

    Myth: You should take semaglutide only if you have diabetes.

    Fact: Semaglutide can also be taken for weight loss management with suitable BMI values with or without having diabetes.

    The bottom line


    Semaglutide provides an upper hand in offering various advantages in weight loss therapy and management of diabetes mellitus; there is a need to watch out for side effects that accompany it. Although most side effects are manageable, others will subside after your body gets used to them. Despite these, the craze among the population for this thought to be a magic pill is skyrocketing. Always consider a healthcare professional to create a personalized treatment regimen before starting any therapy by yourself. 


                                                   Shed weight; Be healthy! 

    Written by
    Dr. Thamizhakaran K SMedical Content Writer
    AboutThamizhakaran K S is a Medical Content writer at Mr.Med. He completed Doctor of pharmacy from Annamalai University in 2023. He has worked as clinical pharmacist intern at Government Cuddalore medical college and hospital. During internship he gained expertise on clincial pharmaclogy, pharmacotherapeutics and clinical research. He also published an research project in International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Research. He has thorough knowledge on clinical trail methodologies and various pharmacovigilance guidelines. He possesses a strong interest in writing and uses his research skills to clearly communicate health information to the readers.
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