Woman With Incurable Stomach Condition Says Ozempic "Isn't Worth This"
She explains that gastroparesis has been "life-altering" for her.
Many have hailed semaglutide injections—more commonly known by their brand names, Ozempic and Wegovy—as miracle drugs for weight loss. However, new details about the medications have come to light, with some patients reporting painful side effects they believe may be connected to the injections. Now, one woman with stomach paralysis is speaking out about the debilitating condition, after patients taking the drugs reported the same diagnosis. Read on to find out why she says the cons of this disorder outweigh the pros of Ozempic use.
Doctors believe semaglutide injections could have contributed to stomach paralysis diagnoses.
Last month, CNN spoke with several patients on Ozempic and Wegovy who had been diagnosed with stomach paralysis (formally known as gastroparesis). According to the Cleveland Clinic, the disorder affects the nerves and muscles in the stomach, slowing and weakening muscle contractions necessary for digestion. Several of these patients' doctors told them that the drugs could have caused or exacerbated the condition.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of gastroparesis in patients taking semaglutide, it hasn't been able to determine whether the medications actually caused the issue, CNN reported. The drugs' labels don't include warnings about this condition, but in a statement previously provided to Best Life, Wegovy and Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk noted that gastrointestinal issues are "well-known side effects."
There is still debate about whether these drugs and stomach paralysis are connected—but one woman says any risk of developing the condition makes Ozempic not worth it.
A patient with the condition describes debilitating symptoms.
In a personal piece published by HuffPost, freelance journalist and essayist Laurie Yarnell says she couldn't take drugs like Ozempic "even if [she] wanted to."
Yarnell explains that she suffers from gastroparesis, which causes nausea, vomiting, gas, acid reflux, distension, "and other equally fun symptoms." The condition has no known cause—Yarnell has never taken semaglutide injections—and requires a special test to confirm a diagnosis.
Making matters worse, Yarnell notes that there's no cure, and that some drugs prescribed to treat symptoms are either ineffective for her or not covered by insurance. To prevent acid reflux and ulcers, she also takes two medications twice daily.
As Ozempic may be connected to stomach paralysis, Yarnell issues a word of caution.
"I'm not saying Ozempic and similar drugs should be banned for their off-label weight loss use. But please go in with your eyes open and be aware of the potential side effects," she writes. "I have been suffering from gastroparesis for close to a decade—and trust me, no amount of weight loss is worth it."
Stomach paralysis has been "life-altering," she says.
Yarnell explains that surgeries can help with symptom management, and while some gastroparesis cases resolve on their own, if you have it for a longer period, it's less likely to just go away.
"Gastroparesis is not life-threatening, but it has definitely been life-altering for me, as any chronic medical condition can be," Yarnell writes. "It literally affects every aspect of my life; I never know when I will wake up feeling nauseous, so having to cancel plans is an unfortunate side effect of gastroparesis."
Yarnell describes difficulty with everyday eating, having to be mindful of what she consumes and limiting both fiber and fats. That means she has to eliminate veggies, most fruits, meat, and oily or fried foods.
"I eat lots of small, bland meals and I am constantly monitoring my symptoms. If I don't eat enough, I get nauseous. If I eat too much, I get nauseous. If I eat something that actually tastes good, I will probably get nauseous," she shares. "I am afraid to try a dish when I don't know exactly what's in it, since accidentally eating a food [that] isn't 'safe' can lead to extreme nausea that has me curled up in the fetal position for days."
It impacts her social life and emotional well-being, too.
Yarnell says she also has to bring her medication and her own food (and a plastic bowl in case she gets sick) when she's traveling or attending events. Dining out can be frustrating, too, as restaurants aren't always understanding about her needs and medical condition.
Beyond that, stomach paralysis "has played havoc with my emotional state," Yarnell writes, noting that she's felt depression related to her chronic nausea. As a result, she wants others to consider the potential ramifications of a semaglutide prescription.
"No matter how much weight you may lose, you do not want gastroparesis," she writes.
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.