Home Drugs Saxenda (Liraglutide) Saxenda Side Effects

Saxenda Side Effects

Saxenda (liraglutide) is a weight loss medication that may cause a range of side effects varying from mild to severe. Some common symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, while more serious side effects include pancreatitis, kidney failure or thyroid cancer.

Last Modified: May 30, 2024
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Latest Side Effects Information for Saxenda

As of the latest available data from March 31, 2024, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea were the most common Saxenda (liraglutide) side effects reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS) Data for Saxenda (Liraglutide) Side Effects
Total cases reported5,496
Serious cases (including deaths)2,221
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.

Saxenda’s label carries an FDA boxed warning of the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors after animal testing. The box warning also states that people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) should not take Saxenda.

Kenneth S. Fill, PharmD, MBA
“In my experience as a pharmacist, it is recommended to take daily GLP-1 medications first thing in the morning prior to eating to allow the medication time to begin working. This may reduce side effects, particularly in the first few weeks as your body is adjusting to the medication.”
Kenneth S. Fill, PharmD, MBA Pharmacist

Is Saxenda Safe To Use?

While the weight loss drug Saxenda is usually safe when taken exactly as directed by a doctor, the medication does have side effects that range from mild to severe, including a boxed warning for thyroid cancer.

Saxenda’s most common side effects tend to be gastrointestinal and relatively minor. Discussing medical history with a doctor is essential to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks in your case.

GLP-1 lawsuits claim Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer, failed to warn consumers about all potential side effects, including stomach paralysis and cancer. Consult with a lawyer if you experienced adverse health issues after taking Saxenda to see if you qualify for a personal injury lawsuit.

Common Saxenda Side Effects

The common side effects of Saxenda are gastrointestinal issues, similar to other GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic (semaglutide) and Mounjaro (tirzepatide). More than 2% of Saxenda users report experiencing the side effects below.

Side Effects of Saxenda
  • Nausea: 39.3%
  • Diarrhea: 20.9%
  • Constipation: 19.4%
  • Vomiting: 15.7%
  • Injection site reaction: 13.9%
  • Headache: 13.6%
  • Hypoglycemia (in Type 2 diabetes patients): 12.6%
  • Dyspepsia: 9.6%
  • Fatigue: 7.5%
  • Dizziness: 6.9%
  • Abdominal pain: 5.4%
  • Increased lipase: 5.3%
  • Upper abdominal pain: 5.1%
  • Gastroenteritis: 4.7%
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease: 4.7%
  • Abdominal distension: 4.5%
  • Eructation: 4.5%
  • Urinary tract infection: 4.3%
  • Flatulence: 4.0%
  • Viral gastroenteritis: 2.8%
  • Insomnia: 2.4%
  • Dry mouth 2.3%
  • Asthenia: 2.1%
  • Anxiety: 2.0%

Saxenda users may experience other mild side effects. Monitoring and reporting symptoms to a doctor is important. Seek medical attention for severe symptoms.

How Long Do Common Saxenda Side Effects Last?

Most mild Saxenda side effects usually disappear in a few days or weeks as you get used to the medication.

Your health care providers can offer advice on managing symptoms and minimizing discomfort. You should follow your doctor’s dosing schedule exactly to reduce the likelihood and severity of side effects. If a side effect persists or worsens over time, speak with your doctor.

Serious Saxenda Side Effects

Serious Saxenda side effects are rare but include an increased risk of cancer, gallbladder problems and allergic reactions. People with a history of thyroid cancer in their close family members should not take Saxenda.

Serious Side Effects
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Acute gallbladder disease
  • Fast heart rate
  • Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Thyroid cancer

To reduce the risk of serious Saxenda side effects, have an open discussion with your doctor about your medical history. This will help determine the level of risk for developing any severe conditions.

Saxenda Linked to Stomach Paralysis

Saxenda, Ozempic and other GLP-1 drugs have been linked to stomach paralysis, or gastroparesis. It’s a condition that causes nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Although the condition is treatable, it has no cure and can sometimes cause complications.

People who experienced adverse events from taking other blood sugar management and weight loss drugs can stay informed of the latest legal developments by reading about ongoing Ozempic lawsuits and Mounjaro lawsuits. Some people who developed stomach paralysis have also filed lawsuits against Novo Nordisk after taking Saxenda.

Lawsuit Information
People who developed gastroparesis after using injectable weight-loss drugs are filing lawsuits.
View Lawsuit

Saxenda Boxed Warning

Saxenda’s label includes a boxed warning for the risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the most serious label warning that the FDA issues for medication.

“Liraglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors at clinically relevant exposures in both genders of rats and mice. It is unknown whether Saxenda causes thyroid C-cell tumors, including medullary thyroid carcinoma, in humans …”

Inform your doctor if you or anyone in your family has a history of thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 before considering Saxenda for weight loss.

Other Saxenda Warnings & Precautions

Saxenda users should follow the manufacturer’s and doctor’s warnings and precautions to lower the risk of side effects. These are available on the Saxenda label.

Inform your doctor about allergies, medications, supplements, health issues and alcohol consumption. Talk to your doctor if you become pregnant or ill, as certain conditions can affect liraglutide safety and dosage.

Saxenda (Liraglutide) Label Warnings
Acute Gallbladder Disease
Saxenda may cause gallbladder problems. Seek medical attention if you have abdominal pain, jaundice or fever. Surgery may be required in some cases.
Acute Pancreatitis
Saxenda raises the risk of pancreatitis. Look out for severe abdominal pain with vomiting that may spread from the stomach to the back. If you experience this symptom, stop using Saxenda and call your doctor right away.
Heart Rate Increase
Monitor your heart rate while taking Saxenda, as it may cause an increase. If you experience a persistent racing or pounding heart, contact your doctor right away.
Hypersensitivity Reactions
Drug hypersensitivity reactions can range from mild to severe symptoms and require immediate medical attention in case of severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.
Kidney Impairment
Saxenda may cause kidney problems and serious hypoglycemia. Drink lots of fluids and contact your doctor if you experience severe vomiting or diarrhea.
Serious Hypoglycemia
Saxenda can cause hypoglycemia in Type 2 diabetes patients. Doctors may need to lower insulin doses, and patients should monitor their blood sugar levels carefully. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, shakiness, and sweating.
Suicidal Behavior and Ideation
Clinical trials have produced Insufficient evidence to link Saxenda with suicidal behavior. In March 2024, the FDA said its initial examination “did not find an association between use of GLP-1 RAs and the occurrence of suicidal thoughts or actions.”

The European Medicines Agency — the European Union’s counterpart to the FDA — has asked GLP-1 drug makers to provide more information before it studies a link to suicidal thoughts or actions. And the FDA is continuing to monitor the potential link.

Users should stay vigilant for signs of depression or suicidal thoughts. Report any such symptoms promptly to your doctor. Those who experience suicidal thoughts can seek help by contacting the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

How To Manage and Prevent the Side Effects of Saxenda

The most common side effects people experience while taking Saxenda are nausea and digestive upset. These are typically manageable with diet and lifestyle adjustments. Your dosage schedule can also affect whether you have side effects, which is why doctors usually prescribe the lowest effective dose to avoid additional side effects.

5 Tips To Manage Side Effects
  1. Follow the recommended dosing schedule.
  2. Consult your doctor before changing the dosage or stopping Saxenda.
  3. Eat smaller portions.
  4. Stay hydrated — drink water and consume water-rich foods.
  5. Try peppermint or ginger tea.
  6. Stick to low-fat, bland foods like rice, potatoes or toast.

Going outdoors for exercise and fresh air can help manage symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking any medication. If symptoms persist, a different drug may be needed or discontinuation may be necessary.

When To See a Doctor for Your Saxenda Side Effects

If you experience side effects lasting longer than two weeks or if they get worse, contact your doctor.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms while taking Saxenda:
  • Inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement
  • Severe abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Signs of jaundice (yellow skin)

Keep a record of symptoms to track the side effect severity and duration. Severe reactions, such as lumps or swelling in the neck, shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing, require immediate medical attention and may indicate thyroid cancer.

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