These Are the 5 Most Common Ozempic Side Effects, According to Doctors
The popular drug may come with some unpleasant symptoms.
Ozempic was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use by people with diabetes back in 2017—so the drug, which is a brand name for semaglutide, isn't exactly new. But with more and more people taking it off-label in order to lose weight, the medication's side effects are now in the spotlight. Some patients are even discontinuing use because their symptoms are unbearable, NBC News recently reported.
Carey Yazeed, who was taking Ozempic for type 2 diabetes not for weight loss, told the outlet that she experienced nausea, fatigue, and headaches for the five weeks she was on the drug before she called it quits. "I had vomited so much that I didn't have the energy to get up and I was basically lying in it. I couldn't even raise my head to vomit in the commode. It was so bad," she said.
Best Life reached out to doctors to find out whether Yazeed's experience is typical, and what side effects people who take semaglutide—which is a sold under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelus—might expect. Read on to find out about five of the most common complaints people report when taking these drugs.
Chester Wu, MD, medical reviewer for Rise Science, shared a long list of Ozempic side effects he's seen, with the caveat that "most of these symptoms were mild or moderate, and got better over time without patients needing to stop the medication."
One of the most common of these is an increase in burping after you eat. While an occasional belch probably isn't something most people would be bothered by, and in fact is completely normal, if it (or any medication side effect) becomes bothersome and doesn't subside, Wu recommends checking in with your doctor about it.
Bloating and constipation
If you're shedding pounds as a result of taking Ozempic, it might be easier to squeeze into your skinny jeans—unless you're too bloated to zip them up. Along with burping, bloating was one of the top Ozempic side effects cited by Wu.
Often caused by constipation—another common Ozempic side effect—bloating is the uncomfortable feeling that results from excess gas, air, or fluid in your gut, Healthline explains. Their experts say that light exercise, taking probiotic supplements, and practicing habits that support regular bowel movements can help ease bloating.
Nausea and vomiting
Constant nausea, perhaps the most common complaint from patients taking Ozempic, can rob people's lives of joy, says Erin Parks, PhD, a psychologist, researcher, and co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer at Equip, a virtual eating disorder treatment program.
"They might lose a year of their life of not enjoying their kids' soccer games, not enjoying being out with their friends, because they're feeling nauseated all the time, only to then go off of it and gain all the weight back," she says. And for some patients it's not just nausea, but vomiting as well.
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Part of how Ozempic works is by making people feel full, so it's not surprising that the most common side effects impact the digestive system. Wu says that along with nausea, many patients also experience painful cramping.
He stresses that everyone reacts differently to the medication, though, and more research into the drug needs to be done. "Most of what we know about [Ozempic] comes from studies linked to the manufacturer," he says.
It's also important to note that if you decide to stop taking the drug because of the unpleasant side effects, Wu says it may take up to five weeks, or even longer, for the symptoms to fully clear up.
People taking Ozempic may find themselves running to the bathroom more often—if not to vomit, then because they have diarrhea. Along with nausea, stomach pain, and constipation, diarrhea rounds out the most common side effects people experience when taking Ozempic.
As for more serious side effects, Wu says that, although rare, these may include inflammation of the pancreas, changes in vision, kidney failure, serious allergic reactions, gallbladder disease, and a potential increased risk of thyroid cancer. "Semaglutide causes thyroid tumors in animals, but more human research is needed," he tells Best Life.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.