How Long Do Semaglutide Side Effects Last? A Complete Overview

A comprehensive guide on semaglutide side effects and duration. Learn about common mild and severe reactions, allergy risks, and prevention tips.

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Published:
July 19, 2024
January 10, 2024
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Semaglutide, also known as Ozempic and Rybelsus, is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is primarily prescribed for the management of type 2 diabetes. 

Semaglutide belongs to the class of prescription drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists that regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release and reducing glucose production. It is administered through a subcutaneous injection (under the skin).

Other GLP-1 receptor-agonist medications include Wegovy (semaglutide), Victoza (liraglutide), Mounjaro (tirzepatide), and Saxenda (liraglutide). In addition to diabetes management, semaglutide has become more popular due to its effectiveness in promoting weight loss.

This article will give you an in-depth exploration of semaglutide and its side effects. We’ll discuss possible side effects you may experience when taking semaglutide, from common to more severe, and how long they last. Whether you’re considering semaglutide for type 2 diabetes or weight management, this article has you covered.

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Side Effects of Semaglutide: From Frequent to Severe

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As with any medication, semaglutide injection is associated with various side effects that can range from common and mild to severe. Being aware of the possible side effects of Ozempic can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare, as well as being vigilant about more severe side effects when and if they occur. 

1. Frequent Side Effects

Here are some of the most common side effects that occur in people taking semaglutide.

  • Constipation: Constipation is a common side effect of semaglutide. Ensuring an adequate intake of fiber and fluids can help alleviate this symptom
  • Nausea: Some individuals may encounter bouts of nausea, particularly during the initial stages of semaglutide use.
  • Vomiting: Some individuals may experience vomiting as a side effect. If this persists, it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider
  • Abdominal Pain: Stomach pain, bloating, discomfort, or pain may occur. It's advisable to seek medical advice if the pain is persistent or severe
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is another frequent side effect. Maintaining hydration is crucial to manage this symptom effectively

2. Mild Side Effects

These side effects are mild and are experienced by some people who use semaglutide. 

  • Fatigue: Some users may experience fatigue during the initial stages of semaglutide use. Adequate rest and a consistent dosing schedule can help mitigate this
  • Changes in Your Sense of Taste Mild: alterations in taste perception may occur. These changes are generally temporary and subside with continued use
  • Nausea: Nausea is a mild side effect that may be managed by taking semaglutide with meals or as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Heartburn, Burping, and Gas Increased: reflux or indigestion, burping, and gas may occur. This is typically a benign side effect but should be monitored
  • Dizziness: Some individuals may experience dizziness. It's advisable to avoid sudden movements and rise slowly from a sitting or lying position

3. Serious Side Effects

The following side effects are considered severe and potentially life-threatening and should be taken seriously. Watch for any indication of the following health problems and speak with your medical provider immediately should you experience them.

  • Pancreatitis: Although rare, pancreatitis is a severe side effect that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain
  • Kidney Damage: Long-term use of semaglutide may lead to an increased risk of kidney problems. Regular monitoring and consultation with a healthcare provider are crucial
  • Thyroid Cancer: There is a potential association between semaglutide and thyroid tumors. It's imperative to discuss any personal or family history of thyroid issues with a healthcare professional
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Some studies suggest a potential link between semaglutide and diabetic retinopathy. Regular eye check-ups are advisable for those on long-term treatment

Semaglutide Cautionary Measures: Who Should Avoid It?

Semaglutide is considered safe for most people and is generally tolerated by most individuals. However, some people with certain medical conditions or family history should not take semaglutide. 

Before taking semaglutide, consider the following information.

  • Pregnant people should not take semaglutide because semaglutide's safety during pregnancy is not well-established. Pregnant individuals or those planning to conceive should consult their healthcare provider
  • People who are breastfeeding should not take semaglutide. It is unknown whether semaglutide passes into breast milk. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed
  • If you have a personal or family history of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC), you should avoid semaglutide due to the potential risk of thyroid cancer
  • People with a personal or family history of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) should not take semaglutide due to the risk of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
  • Individuals with a known allergy to semaglutide or its components should avoid its use.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="semaglutide-natural-alternatives">15 Semaglutide Natural Alternatives Worth Considering</a>.</p>

Semaglutide Allergy Risks: What You Need to Know

Allergic reactions to medications are a serious concern, and understanding the potential allergy risks associated with semaglutide is important for your safety and well-being.

Semaglutide, like any medication, may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Allergic reactions can manifest as:

  • Skin Rash or Itching: Allergic skin reactions may occur, presenting as a rash or itching
  • Swelling: Swelling, particularly of the face, lips, or tongue, may indicate an allergic reaction and requires immediate medical attention
  • Difficulty Breathing: Severe allergic reactions may cause difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, necessitating emergency intervention

If you suspect an allergic reaction to semaglutide, seek immediate medical attention. Before starting this medication, it's important to communicate any known allergies or sensitivities with your healthcare provider.

Semaglutide Side Effects: Signs It's Time to Consult Your Doctor

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Monitoring for signs of potential side effects is part of your responsibility as a user of semaglutide. Recognizing when to consult your healthcare provider ensures prompt intervention and appropriate management of these side effects. 

If you’re having persistent or severe gastrointestinal symptoms, like constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea, you should seek medical advice.

If you have persistent unexplained fatigue or weakness, it may indicate an underlying issue and warrants a call to your doctor. 

If you have any changes in vision, including blurred vision or eye problems, you should report this to your healthcare provider immediately.

Severe abdominal pain may indicate pancreatitis, a severe side effect that requires immediate medical attention. Changes in urine output, swelling, or persistent fatigue may suggest potential kidney damage or disease and warrant consulting your doctor.

You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms suggestive of thyroid issues, such as unexplained weight changes or neck swelling.

Tips for Preventing Semaglutide Side Effects

Taking proactive measures can help prevent or minimize the side effects associated with taking semaglutide. Here are some valuable tips to consider in order to minimize the impact of potential side effects:

  • Monitor Blood Sugar to Prevent Hypoglycemia: Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels helps maintain balanced blood glucose and prevent hypoglycemia. If you notice frequent hypoglycemia, talk to your doctor about your dose of semaglutide
  • Avoid Large, High-Fat Meals and Fried Foods: Opt for balanced, smaller meals and steer clear of larger meals and high-fat food choices for a smoother digestion process. This dietary choice can help reduce gastrointestinal side effects associated with semaglutide use
  • Start Small, Increase Gradually: Start with a lower dose and gradually increase it as recommended by your healthcare provider. This gradual increase allows your body to acclimate to the medication, potentially reducing the intensity of initial side effects
  • Choose Bland Foods Like Rice, Crackers, and Toast: When experiencing nausea, opt for bland and easily digestible foods, such as rice, crackers, or toast. These foods can be gentler on the digestive system, which may help alleviate potential stomach discomfort associated with semaglutide
  • Opt for High-Water-Content Meals: Eating meals with high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can contribute to hydration and aid digestion. Proper hydration is essential in preventing and managing side effects like constipation.

Implementing these lifestyle changes and nutrition tips can contribute to a more positive semaglutide experience. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle to ensure changes align with your overall diabetes management plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you understand semaglutide, its potential side effects, and how to manage them, you may have some additional questions. This section aims to address some commonly asked questions related to semaglutide and its effects on the body.

How Long Does It Take Your Body to Adjust to Semaglutide?

Adjusting to semaglutide varies from person to person. Generally, individuals may experience initial side effects during the first few weeks of use as the body adapts to the medication. Give your body time to acclimate, and any persistent or worsening symptoms should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

When Does Semaglutide Peak?

Semaglutide typically reaches its peak concentration in the bloodstream within a few hours after injecting it. 

How Long Do Ozempic Side Effects Last?

The duration of side effects associated with semaglutide, marketed as Ozempic, can vary from person to person. Some side effects may be short-lived and subside as your body adjusts to the medication, while others may persist. Discuss your concerns about side effects with your healthcare provider.

Learn How to Improve Your Nutrition and Monitor Your Glycemic Index Levels With Signos’ Expert Advice

Along with proper diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices, medications can play a significant role in managing diabetes, obesity, and blood sugar health. 

Signos CGM empowers you to improve your health by keeping track of your diet, exercise, sleep habits, and blood sugar. Knowledge is power, and a CGM can give you specific information about how your habits affect your health. 

Signos has a team of health experts who compile evidence-based nutrition information to help you improve your health and wellness. Check out the resources here.

Find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking a quick quiz.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="semaglutide-for-weight-loss">Semaglutide for Weight Loss: Does it Work?</a>.</p>

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References

  1. Smits, M. M., & Van Raalte, D. H. (2021). Safety of Semaglutide. Frontiers in endocrinology, 12, 645563. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2021.645563.
  2. Delong C, Preuss CV. Box Warning. [Updated 2023 Jun 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538521/.
  3. Shah, M., & Vella, A. (2014). Effects of GLP-1 on appetite and weight. Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders, 15(3), 181–187. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-014-9289-5

About the author

Victoria Whittington earned her Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition from the University of Alabama and has over 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.

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