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Ozempic Side Effects

Ozempic, a popular medication for Type 2 diabetes used off-label for weight loss, commonly causes side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and constipation. Severe side effects of Ozempic include allergic reactions, changes in vision and pancreatitis. Ozempic carries an FDA boxed warning for the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors.

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Last Modified: June 4, 2024
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Latest Ozempic Side Effects Information

As of June 2024, gastrointestinal disorders were the most common Ozempic side effects reported to the FDA. Nausea was the most common side effect reported, followed by constipation second and diarrhea third.

FDA Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS) Data for Ozempic Side Effects
Total cases reported17,681
Serious cases (including deaths)7,851
Deaths222
Source: FAERS Database
Disclaimer: Reports sent to the FDA don't necessarily mean the drug caused an adverse event. Consult a health care professional before stopping or changing medication.

New FDA Ozempic Warning Updates

On Jan. 11, 2024, the FDA released a safety communication informing the public that the agency hasn’t found a connection between Ozempic or Wegovy and suicidal thoughts.

However, the FDA said that it “cannot definitively rule out that a small risk may exist,” and it continues to investigate the issue.

In addition to suicidal thoughts, the FDA continues to investigate FAERS reports of hair loss linked to Ozempic.

Common Ozempic Side Effects

The most common Ozempic side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the drug’s prescribing information. Among all patients taking Ozempic, nausea was the most reported side effect.

“The most common side effects of [Ozempic and other GLP-1] medications are gastrointestinal, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Patients may also experience fatigue, headaches or dizziness. We can help patients prevent these side effects through appropriate counseling,” Dr. Maria Anton, endocrinologist and educator at Pritikin Longevity Center, told Drugwatch.

In clinical trials aimed at studying the effects of Ozempic on individuals with Type 2 diabetes, researchers engaged a diverse group of participants. This group included 262 individuals who were administered a placebo, 260 participants who received a 0.5 mg dose of Ozempic, and another 261 subjects who were given a 1 mg dose.

Common Ozempic side effects include:
  • Abdominal pain (7.3%)
  • Constipation (5%)
  • Diarrhea (8.5%)
  • Nausea (15.8%)
  • Vomiting (5%)

Patients usually experience side effects while gradually increasing the drug’s dosage until reaching the maximum dose, a process known as dose escalation. For instance, 15.8% of individuals taking 0.5 mg doses reported nausea in trials compared to 20.3% of individuals on 1 mg doses.

“The most common side effects of [Ozempic and other GLP-1] medications are gastrointestinal, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Patients may also experience fatigue, headaches or dizziness. We can help patients prevent these side effects through appropriate counseling.”
Dr. Maria Anton, endocrinologist and educator at Pritikin Longevity Center

How Long Do Ozempic Side Effects Last?

Common side effects from Ozempic disappear within a few days or weeks. But if they last for months or are bothersome, speak to your health care provider.

After stopping Ozempic, it may take a few weeks for the drug to leave the body — especially at the highest dose of 2 mg — and you may still feel side effects.

“It was a shock to my system. I had a lot of nausea and a lot of throwing up initially. I would take my shot, and then a couple of hours later, I’d be over the toilet. For me, that lasted about two weeks,” Stephan T., a patient who used Ozempic for Type 2 diabetes and is omitting his last name for privacy reasons, told Drugwatch.

Ozempic Face and Ozempic Neck

Some people who take semaglutide for weight loss may experience noticeably sagging skin on the face, neck, buttocks or other areas. On the internet, this is commonly called Ozempic face, Ozempic neck and even Ozempic butt.

According to weight loss experts, losing muscle and losing weight too quickly can cause Ozempic face and Ozempic neck.

“If you lose muscle because you’re not having your body composition monitored, that’s a possibility. Typically, people with Ozempic face and Ozempic neck have probably lost too much weight. The skin is sagging around the face and the neck,” Dr. Sue Decotiis, a triple board-certified medical weight loss physician based in New York City, told Drugwatch.

Decotiis recommends being monitored by a weight loss physician to make sure weight loss is at a good pace and is sustainable.

Serious Ozempic Side Effects

Rare but serious Ozempic side effects include pancreatitis, allergic reactions, kidney issues and other uncommon but severe complications. The drug has an FDA boxed warning for thyroid C-cell tumors, medullary thyroid carcinoma and multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

While less common, Ozempic can cause serious health issues, including:
  • Acute gallbladder disease
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Allergic reactions
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Hypoglycemia (when used with insulin or sulfonylurea)
  • Increased risk of thyroid tumors
  • Pancreatitis

Some people may develop immunity to Ozempic. During clinical trials, approximately 1% of users developed antibodies against Ozempic which can decrease the drug’s effectiveness over time.

According to Decotiis, very few of her patients have had to discontinue Ozempic because of severe side effects. She added that many of them were dehydrated and felt better after drinking more water.

Ozempic and Gastroparesis

According to studies and FDA reports, some people have suffered from gastroparesis, or paralyzed stomach, after taking Ozempic.

“There are some publicly available clinical trials, observational studies and case reports showing an association between gastroparesis or persistent vomiting and Ozempic and these types of drugs,” Jonathan Sedgh, an attorney with Morgan & Morgan, told Drugwatch.

Researchers published the most recent study data in JAMA as a research letter in October 2023.

In the study, authors found that people who used GLP-1 agonists, including Ozempic, for weight loss had an increased risk of gastroparesis and bowel obstruction compared to people who used another drug called bupropion-naltrexone.

As of the latest publicly available data published on Dec. 31, 2023, FAERS received 149 reports of Intestinal obstruction and 223 reports of impaired gastric emptying.

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When To Seek Medical Attention

Because Ozempic carries an FDA boxed warning for potential thyroid tumors or cancers, you should see a doctor immediately if you develop swelling in your neck, a lump in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing or shortness of breath.

Ozempic may also cause side effects that are signs of other severe problems that require medical attention right away.

When to see a doctor right away for Ozempic side effects:
  • Hypoglycemia with symptoms such as shaking, fast heartbeat, sweating, nervousness, hunger, dizziness, irritability or confusion.
  • Serious allergic reaction with symptoms that include swelling of the throat, tongue, lips or face. This may include problems breathing, a rash, rapid heartbeat or dizziness.
  • Symptoms of pancreatitis, including severe pain in the abdominal area that won’t go away and may radiate from the abdomen to the back, nausea or vomiting, bloating and fever.

You should also see a doctor for Ozempic or other common and less serious side effects if they persist or are bothersome. Regular monitoring and timely consultation can help in effectively managing these side effects.

Jonathan Sedgh Headshot
“There are some publicly available clinical trials, observational studies and case reports showing an association between gastroparesis or persistent vomiting and Ozempic and these types of drugs.”
Jonathan Sedgh attorney with Morgan & Morgan

Weight Loss as an Ozempic Side Effect

While not its primary use, Ozempic has been associated with significant weight loss. According to manufacturer Novo Nordisk, people who experienced Ozempic weight loss side effects lost an average of 9.3 to 14.1 pounds over 40 weeks on Ozempic.

This has led to widespread off-label use of Ozempic to treat obesity, driving a global shortage of the drug. However, regaining weight after stopping the medication is common and people taking Ozempic for weight loss are still subject to all other side effects of the medication.

People who take Ozempic for weight loss typically experience similar side effects as those who take the drug for Type 2 diabetes.

How To Manage or Avoid Ozempic Side Effects

If you have side effects that persist or cause trouble, Ozempic’s guidelines suggest talking to your doctor. They may recommend dietary changes or a different medication.

“Smaller, balanced, lower fat and blander meals can help to prevent the gastrointestinal discomfort often associated with these medications. Proper hydration, moderation of alcohol intake and regular exercise can also help patients acclimate to these medications,” Anton said.

Tips For Managing or Avoiding Ozempic Side Effects
  • Start with a smaller dose and slowly increase it over time
  • Avoid large, fatty meals and greasy or fried foods
  • Carefully monitor blood sugar levels to avoid hypoglycemia
  • Eat bland foods such as rice, crackers or toast
  • Eat meals that have a high water content, such as soup
  • Eat more frequent, light, smaller meals
  • Eat slowly
  • Monitor for signs of pancreatitis, retinopathy or thyroid problems
  • Stay hydrated by drinking cold drinks such as water or unsweetened iced tea
  • Take anti-nausea medication
  • Take the medicine at the same day and time each week with a meal

Some people may suffer chronic side effects from taking Ozempic, mainly gastrointestinal effects. At least 10% of patients who start Ozempic or Wegovy have to stop taking the medication because the side effects don’t improve, Dr. Meera Shah, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, told CBS News.

Nausea and vomiting side effects may indicate malabsorption of nutrients. These side effects may also affect mood and energy levels. Your doctor may recommend you avoid certain habits and foods that can make you nauseous.

To avoid Ozempic side effects like nausea, eat slowly, monitor your diet or take anti-nausea meds. Side effects are common at first and gradually subside.

FDA Warnings and Actions for Ozempic

In late 2023, the FDA began investigating reports of suicidal ideation, alopecia (hair loss) and aspiration after it identified potential risks in its July to September 2023 FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) data. In early January 2024, the agency ruled there wasn’t sufficient evidence to link Ozempic to suicidal thoughts, but it continues to investigate.

On Sept. 28, 2023, the FDA updated Ozempic’s label, acknowledging the potentially life-threatening side effect of ileus, or blockage of the intestines. People have filed Ozempic lawsuits after they suffered gastroparesis (paralyzed stomach), excessive vomiting, intestinal blockages and ileus.

“We’re alleging that the Defendants knew or should have known that these drugs could cause what’s called gastroparesis, ileus and intestinal blockages, and they failed to properly warn the American population about it,” Sedgh said.

Lawsuit Information
Lawsuits are being filed by people who developed severe gastroparesis after using Ozempic.
View Lawsuits

Is There an Ozempic Recall?

So far, the drug’s makers and the FDA have not announced any recalls associated with Ozempic. However, in December 2023, the FDA seized thousands of units of Ozempic counterfeits.

“The agency advises wholesalers, retail pharmacies, health care practitioners and patients to check the product they have received and not distribute, use, or sell products labeled with lot number NAR0074 and serial number 430834149057 … Some counterfeit products may still be available for purchase,” according to the FDA’s warning.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.