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Saxenda Side Effects

Saxenda is a weight loss drug with potential side effects ranging from mild to severe. Common symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, which subside after a few days or weeks. Other people may develop more serious health issues, including pancreatitis, kidney failure or thyroid cancer.

Last Modified: January 17, 2024
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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.

Patients should discuss their medical history with their doctor to determine if the benefits of Saxenda are greater than the potential risks. A person’s age, health conditions and medications impact the likelihood of developing side effects.

Saxenda manufacturer Novo Nordisk reported that the most common side effects experienced during clinical trials were gastrointestinal. Of those who experienced these side effects, 6.2% of those taking Saxenda and 0.8% of those taking a placebo discontinued treatment. The majority of participants had mild to moderate symptoms and chose to continue with the study.

Saxenda is one of several weight loss drugs involved in ongoing litigation. Current lawsuits claim that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn consumers about the full range and severity of side effects. Individuals who experienced adverse health issues from taking Saxenda can discuss their case with a lawyer to discover if they qualify to sue for personal injury due to developing stomach paralysis or cancer.

Common Saxenda Side Effects

The most common side effects of Saxenda are gastrointestinal issues, which are the same as with other liraglutide injections, and semaglutide and tirzepatide drugs such as Ozempic and Mounjaro. The list of side effects reports adverse reactions that occurred in more than 2% of Saxenda users.

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%

Most people who take Saxenda experience mild, short-term side effects. All patients should track and monitor their symptoms to report to their doctor. Saxenda users should seek immediate medical attention for severe symptoms.

How Long Do Saxenda Side Effects Last?

Most mild side effects like nausea and diarrhea go away after a few days to a few weeks as the patient becomes accustomed to Saxenda. Health care providers can give advice on how to manage symptoms to minimize discomfort.

Novo Nordisk advises patients to follow their doctor’s dosing schedule exactly as directed to acclimate to the drug and reduce the likelihood of experiencing side effects as well as their severity. Patients should speak with their doctor if a side effect persists or becomes worse over time.

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
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Thyroid cancer

Patients considering Saxenda can mitigate their risk of developing one of these serious side effects by having an honest and detailed discussion with their doctor. Talking about personal and family medical history can help health care providers determine the level of risk a patient may have for developing one of these conditions.

Saxenda Linked to Stomach Paralysis

One of the most concerning Saxenda side effects is stomach paralysis, also called gastroparesis, when the stomach takes a long time to empty out food or stops performing this essential function completely. There is no warning on the drug’s prescribing label, but some studies have linked the drug to gastroparesis. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Stomach paralysis is treatable but has no cure. In some cases, the condition causes additional complications, though it’s rarely life-threatening.

Patients who took semaglutide drugs like Ozempic have also received diagnoses of stomach paralysis. Although instances are still rare, affecting around 1% of patients, this is a serious concern.

Some people have filed lawsuits against the Saxenda manufacturer citing personal injury after developing stomach paralysis. Anyone hoping to pursue legal action should speak with a lawyer to review their case. Patients and family members who experienced adverse health effects 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.

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

Saxenda Boxed Warning

The drug Saxenda has a boxed warning for risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the most serious label warning that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 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 . . . — Saxenda Boxed Warning”

Contraindications for Saxenda exist for anyone who has a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or the genetic disorder multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. Doctors should avoid prescribing Saxenda to anyone with these conditions in their own medical history or that of immediate family members.

Saxenda Warnings and Precautions

People taking Saxenda can help lower their risk of side effects by following the warnings and precautions given by the manufacturer and their doctor. Patients should inform their doctor of any allergies to liraglutide or other medications, provide a complete list of medications and supplements they take, and disclose current and past health issues and alcohol consumption. 

Saxenda users must talk to their doctor if they become pregnant or ill, as certain conditions can affect liraglutide safety and dosage. Anyone who takes Saxenda, or who is considering taking the drug, must know about these associated warnings and precautions. These risks include the potential of developing serious health issues. 

Acute Gallbladder Disease

Use of Saxenda can lead to an increased risk of developing acute gallbladder disease. Gallstones are another possibility. 

Some gallbladder issues require surgery, so it’s important that patients seek treatment at the first sign of symptoms. These include upper abdominal pain, jaundice and fever. 

Acute Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a serious issue that refers to inflammation of the pancreas. Saxenda increases the risk of fatal and non-fatal hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis. 

A symptom of pancreatitis to watch for is severe abdominal pain, sometimes accompanied by vomiting. Pain might radiate from the stomach to the back.

Anyone who experiences this symptom should discontinue the use of Saxenda and call their doctor right away. 

Heart Rate Increase

Some users experience an increased heart rate elevated by two to three beats per minute. Others may notice an increase of 10 to 20 bpm. 

People who use Saxenda should monitor their heart rate while taking Saxenda. Feeling a racing or pounding heart that doesn’t subside within a few minutes is a reason to contact a doctor. 

Hypersensitivity Reactions

Drug hypersensitivity reactions may occur immediately following a dose or after a time delay. Possible symptoms range from mild to severe and include a rash, illness and anaphylactic shock. 

A severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include trouble breathing or swallowing; swelling of the lips, face, tongue or throat; and fainting. 

Kidney Impairment

In rare cases, people taking Saxenda develop new or worsening issues with their kidneys, including kidney failure. This can cause the patient to require dialysis.

The risk is higher in those who have severe vomiting or diarrhea that causes dehydration. Increasing fluid intake is essential. People who can’t keep fluids down or experience ongoing vomiting and diarrhea should contact their doctor. 

Serious Hypoglycemia

Type 2 diabetes patients are at greater risk of hypoglycemia when taking Saxenda. The patient’s doctor may need to lower insulin dosages during treatment to mitigate this risk. 

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, confusion, shakiness and sweating. Type 2 diabetes patients must carefully monitor their blood sugar levels before and during treatment. 

Suicidal Behavior and Ideation

Clinical trials show insufficient evidence to establish a link between suicidal behavior and Saxenda. Despite the lack of information, anyone who takes the drug should remain aware of the possibility of developing depression or suicidal thoughts. Tell your doctor right away if you experience this side effect. 

Those who experience suicidal thoughts can seek help by contacting the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This preventative resource provides aid to Saxenda patients and their loved ones who have concerns regarding the patient’s mental health.

How To Manage and Prevent the Side Effects of Saxenda

The most common side effect people experience while taking Saxenda is nausea and digestive upset, which is typically manageable with diet and lifestyle adjustments. The dosage schedule a patient follows can also have an impact, which is why doctors typically prescribe the lowest effective dose.

5 Tips To Manage Side Effects
  1. Follow the recommended dosing schedule
  2. Eat smaller portions
  3. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and consuming water-rich foods such as soups, fruits and vegetables
  4. Consume peppermint or ginger tea
  5. Stick to low-fat, bland foods such as steamed rice, cooked potatoes or toast

Going outdoors to get exercise and fresh air instead of lying down after a meal can also help manage side effects. Short-term use of over-the-counter drugs may prove effective, but patients should always speak with their doctor before taking any medication.

If a patient experiences ongoing symptoms, they may require a different drug in the GLP-1RA class. Others might need to discontinue use completely to end symptoms. Most patients don’t experience side effects from stopping Saxenda, but users should never completely stop taking their medication before speaking to their doctor.

When To See a Doctor for Your Saxenda Side Effects

Saxenda users should inform their doctor if side effects last longer than a couple of weeks or if they get worse. It’s helpful for patients to keep a log of symptoms and their severity to track how long they last. This information allows a doctor to make better-informed decisions regarding continued care and dosages.

Severe reactions or symptoms require immediate medical attention. These include lumps or swelling in the neck, shortness of breath and trouble swallowing. Such symptoms may indicate thyroid cancer that requires prompt testing and diagnosis.

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