Ozempic is a drug that improves blood glucose levels in adults living with type 2 diabetes; it's prescribed alongside diet and exercise. Although there is no evidence showing that alcohol and Ozempic directly interact, alcohol affects blood glucose levels, which could be problematic, especially for patients with poor blood glucose management. You should always check the drug's interactions with foods, alcohol, and other medications. Read more to learn about drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic.
Can You Drink While on Ozempic?
Ozempic is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lower blood sugar levels in diabetes patients alongside diet and exercise. Its active ingredient is semaglutide, which is classified as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, meaning it mimics GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Ozempic is also prescribed off-label as a weight loss drug; however, it’s not a weight loss medication and is not FDA-approved for weight loss.
The dosage for diabetic medications and Ozempic is adjusted based on a patient's blood glucose levels. To benefit from drugs, the patient should follow the proper dosage that coincides with the patient's lifestyle, ideally including a healthy and balanced diet and exercise.¹
As for food, alcohol affects blood glucose levels, too. Drinking too much alcohol may result in hyper or hypoglycemia because the liver prioritizes detoxifying alcohol instead of regulating blood glucose. If your blood glucose levels are well-controlled, moderate drinking may not pose a severe risk; however, you should consult your doctor to be informed about the safest way to drink alcohol while taking your medications, including Ozempic.²
Ozempic and Alcohol: Side Effects
Ozempic is prescribed to diabetes patients to help manage their blood sugar levels. Although no direct interaction between alcohol and Ozempic has been shown, drinking alcohol can pose a risk to people with diabetes.³ Drinking alcohol when taking Ozempic can cause side effects that may include but are not limited to:
- Hypoglycemia: Ozempic lowers blood glucose levels more if taken with other medications. While metformin has been shown to reduce hbA1c levels by 0.2 %, 0.5 mg Ozempic and metformin reduce it by 8.4%. In this case, the addition of alcohol can even lower blood glucose levels, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia, especially when the patient hasn't eaten.⁴
- Pancreatitis: Clinical trials of Ozempic reported pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas). Medication guides indicate that Ozempic has not been tested in case of pancreatitis history. Heavy alcohol consumption is also associated with pancreatitis.⁵
- Constipation: Five percent of Ozempic users experience constipation. Alcohol can also cause constipation by inhibiting gastrointestinal motility (movement of food through the gastrointestinal system).⁶
- Kidney Damage: Ozempic can cause acute kidney injury. Diabetes patients with renal impairment are more vulnerable to severe gastrointestinal side effects (such as vomiting and diarrhea) that may affect kidney function. Since alcohol can also trigger gastrointestinal side effects, a combination of Ozempic and alcohol can pose a higher risk to diabetes patients with kidney problems.
- Nausea and Vomiting: The most common side effects of Ozempic are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, which are also common side effects that are experienced during and after drinking alcohol.
- Reduction of Ozempic's Benefits: Ozempic has been shown to reduce body weight and the risk of some cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, and death. On the contrary, drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also causes increased calorie intake and liver fat. Therefore, drinking alcohol may reduce the benefits you may get from Ozempic.¹
- Dizziness and Fainting: Ozempic can cause fatigue, dysgeusia (disruption in taste perception), and dizziness. Alcohol can also cause dizziness and fainting.
- Dehydration: Both alcohol and Ozempic can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. More than 5% of patients taking Ozempic reported vomiting and diarrhea, which are two of the most common side effects.
- Stomach Damage: Ozempic can cause stomach problems such as dyspepsia, gastritis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Alcohol can also contribute to stomach problems such as ulcer, which then leads to gastritis and reflux.
- Ozempic Side Effects Worsened: Several side effects of Ozempic and alcohol overlap; therefore, drinking alcohol may worsen the side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal and kidney problems.
- Allergic Reactions: Ozempic can cause serious allergic reactions whose symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and feeling dizzy, overlap with some side effects of alcohol. It's advised not to take alcohol before you take Ozempic for a while to understand how your body reacts to the drug to minimize the possibility of mistaking the side effects potentially caused by the drug or alcohol.
- Reduced Liver Functions: Ozempic has not been shown to reduce liver functions. However, alcohol use disorder can cause fat accumulation in the liver, which can affect liver functions. The liver metabolizes both drugs and alcohol, so chronic alcohol intake can affect the metabolism of substances (such as drugs) by the liver.
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="ozempic-foods-to-avoid">7 Foods to Avoid to Manage Ozempic Side Effects</a>.</p>
13 Tips When Taking Ozempic And Drinking
Although no direct interaction between alcohol and Ozempic has been demonstrated yet, some side effects of the medication and alcohol overlap, increasing the likelihood of side effects being experienced.³ If you're taking Ozempic, consult your doctor before consuming alcohol to minimize the risk of side effects. Taking easy precautions can help to minimize side effects; tips may include but are not limited to:
- Drinking Plenty of Water to Avoid Dehydration: Ozempic can cause kidney problems (one of the side effects of medication). Fluid losses such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (common following alcohol consumption) can cause dehydration, which negatively affects kidney health. Drinking enough water can prevent dehydration, decreasing your risk of kidney problems.
- Limiting Alcoholic Beverage Consumption or Avoiding Alcoholic Drinks When Experiencing Low Blood Sugar Levels: Managing alcohol effects can be easier if a patient's diabetes is well-controlled. Patients with well-controlled diabetes can understand their body's response to alcohol and take preventive actions when symptoms arise. If you're experiencing low blood sugar levels and have poor blood glucose control, avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption can be wiser.
- Practicing Moderation: Excessive alcohol consumption can cause health problems. Diabetes patients are advised to not exceed the limits of moderate alcohol consumption, which is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Always Carrying Hypo Treatments: It's likely to mistake hypoglycemia symptoms with being drunk. Carrying medications for treating hypoglycemia, such as carbohydrates that increase blood glucose levels fast, glucagon, or glucose injection, can be life-saving. Consult your doctor about the treatment suitable for you to use in case of hypoglycemia.
- Not Drinking Alone: Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, which is life-threatening if you can't notice or treat it. Drinking with a friend who knows your condition and what to do in an emergency can be better.
- Carrying a Medical ID: If you're drinking where you don't know anyone, carrying a medical ID indicating your condition is important. In an emergency, your medical ID can make access to the proper and quick treatment possible.
- Not Drinking on an Empty Stomach: When you drink alcohol, the liver prioritizes detoxifying the alcohol, which affects the liver's ability to release glucose into the bloodstream. If you're hungry and blood glucose levels are already lower, alcohol can worsen it, causing hypoglycemia.
- Acknowledging How Long the Effects of Alcohol Last: When you finish drinking, your body is still metabolizing alcohol; therefore, your risk of hypoglycemia continues for up to 24 hours. If you experience the symptoms of hypoglycemia (including but not limited to dizziness, blurred vision, headache, and confusion), immediately stop drinking and eat foods that raise blood sugar levels quickly.
- Checking the Sugar and Alcohol Content of Your Drink: Alcoholic beverages that are low in sugar or alcohol can cause confusion. Low-sugar alcohols contain low sugars but may also be high in alcohol. Also, low-alcoholic drinks such as low-alcoholic wine can have high sugar compared to regular ones.
- Drinking Slowly: Slowly drinking alcohol can help you monitor changes in your body. If you start experiencing side effects before drinking too much, you can better manage your blood glucose levels by checking your glucose levels and taking preventive action.
- Checking Blood Glucose Levels: Checking blood glucose levels before, during, and after up to 24 hours can help keep blood glucose levels at the desired range.
- Not Skipping Breakfast the Morning After: You may experience a hangover, so it can be challenging to roll out of bed; however, your blood glucose can be lower in the morning. You can check your blood glucose levels, and if they are low, eat a balanced breakfast consisting of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
- Drinking on the Days That You're Not Taking Ozempic: Ozempic is prescribed once a week (same day). You can choose to drink alcohol on other days to prevent hypoglycemia because Ozempic use of diabetes medication can lower blood glucose levels more compared to the use of diabetes medication only.⁷
Does Ozempic Interact With Other Medications?
Ozempic extends the time foods pass from the stomach to the intestines. Therefore, Ozempic can influence the absorption of other medications if they're taken at the same time.⁷
Patients taking Ozempic in combination with insulin or insulin secretagogue (such as sulfonylurea) should be aware of the increased risk for hypoglycemia. When patients take Ozempic with insulin or insulin secretagogue, the risk of hypoglycemia increases because Ozempic stimulates insulin production. As a result of too much insulin, low blood glucose levels, and even severe hypoglycemia may be experienced.
Before taking other medications with Ozempic, don't forget to consult your doctor to prevent potential drug-drug interactions.
Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos' Expert Advice
Diabetes patients are given different types of diabetes medications based on general health status, medical history, diet, exercise, other lifestyle factors, use of other drugs, response to diabetes medicine (if different medications were used before), and so on.
Signos's continuous glucose monitoring system provides blood glucose levels at any time. It also enables you to track nutrition, exercise, and hydration, which can help you understand changes in your blood glucose levels and your response to given medications, which can be leveraged by your healthcare provider to identify proper medication and dosage. Are you wondering if Signos is a good fit for you? A quick quiz can give you the answer.
To learn more about managing blood glucose levels, read Signos' blog, which features diabetes-related articles curated by experts.
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="alcohol-and-blood-sugar">Does Alcohol Raise Blood Sugar?</a>.</p>
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Topics discussed in this article:
- What Is Ozempic® (semaglutide) Injection? Ozempic. Retrieved January 15, 2024 from: https://www.ozempic.com/why-ozempic/what-is-ozempic.html
- Alcohol and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved January 15, 2024 from: https://diabetes.org/health-wellness/alcohol-and-diabetes
- Diabetes and Alcohol. MedlinePlus. Retrieved January 15, 2024 from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000968.htm
- Ozempic® vs Other Type 2 Diabetes Medicines. Ozempic. Retrieved January 15, 2024 from: https://www.ozempic.com/why-ozempic/diabetes-medicines-comparison.html
- Klochkov, A., Kudaravalli, P., Lim, Y., & Sun, Y. (2023). Alcoholic pancreatitis. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved January 15, 2024 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537191/#:~:text=Alcohol%2Dinduced%20pancreatitis%20likely%20results,lysosomal%20enzymes%20within%20acinar%20cells.
- Grad, S., Abenavoli, L., & L Dumitrascu, D. (2016). The effect of alcohol on gastrointestinal motility. Reviews on Recent Clinical Trials, 11(3), 191-195. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27527893/
- OZEMPIC® (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use Medication Guide. Ozempic. Retrieved January 15, 2024 from: https://www.novo-pi.com/ozempic.pdf#guide