8 Wegovy side effects and how to manage them
Are you worried about the side effects of Wegovy? Starting a new medicine can be worrying, especially one like semaglutide (available as both Wegovy and Ozempic) which has a long list of potential side effects.
Side effects don’t always affect everyone, and most of the time they’ll go away once your body has gotten used to the new medicine.
While Wegovy hasn't been released in the UK yet, semaglutide is already available to diabetes patients as Ozempic, so many people are already experiencing the benefits and the side effects for themselves.
This is why we’ve compiled a list of the 8 most common semaglutide side effects and some handy tips to help relieve them.
If you don't want to wait until you can buy Wegovy in the UK to start your weight loss journey, we also have other weight management treatments available to tide you over.
The most common side effects of semaglutide
Headaches are one of the most common side effects of taking semaglutide (Wegovy).
They can be caused by dehydration, low blood sugar, or your body just getting used to the change in hormones.
If you’re experiencing headaches alongside sickness and diarrhoea, it’s likely you may be dehydrated.
Make sure to rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of fluids and using rehydration sachets if necessary.
If your headaches are bothering you, try taking an everyday painkiller like paracetamol or using hot/cold compresses on your head and neck.
2. Feeling or being sick
Nausea and vomiting are also very common semaglutide side effects.
This is because semaglutide works by slowing down the emptying of the stomach, which can result in an upset stomach while your body gets used to it.
There are a couple of ways you can settle your stomach without taking medication, including:
- Eat bland, low-fat foods
- Eat foods that contain water, like soups
- Eat slowly
- Don’t lie down after eating
- Get some fresh air
If these aren’t working or your nausea is really getting you down you should reach out to your healthcare team.
They may be able to provide anti-sickness medication like cyclizine or promethazine to help ease your symptoms.
Heartburn and acid reflux are also caused by the way semaglutide affects your digestive system.
Many people find that changing their diet can help ease their symptoms, for example, by cutting down on caffeine and eating less spicy or fatty foods.
As acid reflux is a common problem in people of all ages, there's lots of treatments to relieve your discomfort.Antacids like Gaviscon and Rennie help to neutralise your excess stomach acid, keeping it from irritating your food pipe and preventing your symptoms.
When you’re taking semaglutide for weight loss, your clothes aren’t the only thing that could get looser. Diarrhoea is another common side effect of your medication.
One of the most important things to do if you’re experiencing diarrhoea is to stay hydrated.
Dehydration can be a serious risk, but drinking lots of water and using oral rehydration sachets or tablets can help.
If your diarrhoea is particularly troubling, your pharmacist may be able to provide some medication, like loperamide, to help stop it for a few hours.
Those who don’t have diarrhoea during their treatment may have the opposite problem — constipation.
If you haven’t been able to poo for a few days or have found that your poo is hard, lumpy, or difficult to pass there are a few things you can do to ease your discomfort.
Some of the best remedies for constipation are also recommended for Wegovy patients in general.
For example, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, which is found in fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated can help to relieve constipation.
Regular exercise, even something as simple as a daily walk, can also help to keep things moving while burning off some calories.
If these remedies don’t work, you could ask your pharmacist for a laxative to help things along.
There are a few different types of laxatives, including ones that stimulate your bowel and stool softeners, so you may be asked a little more about your condition before they can recommend the best treatment for you.
6. Feeling weak or tired
Weakness and tiredness are common in patients taking weight loss medications, including Wegovy and Saxenda.
It’s theorised that this can happen because you’re consuming fewer calories, giving your body less energy than it’s used to working with.
Changes to your diet, like eating little and often as well as eating a balanced diet, can help to give your body more energy and sustain it throughout the day.
If you’re struggling to sleep at night then this could also contribute to your lower energy levels.
Keeping to a regular sleep pattern, keeping your bedroom comfortable, and reducing external factors like noise and bright light can help you to get a good 8 hours every night.
You may also be able to try some insomnia treatments, like those from Kalms and Nytol.
7. Gas and bloating
Gas, trapped wind, and bloating can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, even embarrassing.
As with some of the other symptoms on our list, wind can be reduced by eating a balanced diet, eating little and often, and getting some regular exercise.
You may want to avoid foods that are well known for causing flatulence. This includes sprouts and cabbage, and cutting down on fizzy drinks, which introduce more gas into your system.
You could also try drinking peppermint tea to settle your stomach or a trapped wind remedy containing simeticone or an antacid.
Dizziness will usually happen to semaglutide patients if their blood sugar levels get too low.
Sometimes it can be caused by something as simple as not eating enough — a common problem when semaglutide reduces your appetite.
In these cases, eating regularly can help to reduce dizziness. But you should still speak to your healthcare team about your symptoms.
Hypoglycaemia is a more extreme form of low blood sugar and it can lead to more serious medical issues if left unmanaged.
Your healthcare team can help to assess your blood sugar levels and give you some advice to keep your blood sugar from falling too low too frequently.
Continuing your treatment
As is the case with many medications, side effects don’t tend to last for long, especially ones that are digestive-related.
Any side effects you may experience from the semaglutide injection will likely disappear once your body adjusts.
However, if your symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor or pharmacist for further advice on how to prevent or reduce some of the side effects.
They will also be able to assess whether buying Wegovy is the right option for you, taking your progress and the severity of your symptoms into account.
Severe side effects
While you’re unlikely to develop any serious or long-term side effects from taking semaglutide, it’s important that you understand the potential risks beforehand.
In studies conducted with rodents, semaglutide and similar medicines caused thyroid tumours, including thyroid cancer.
However, there is no current evidence that supports this occurring in humans. Other rare side effects include:
- A severe allergic reaction
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Gallbladder problems (including gallstones and gallbladder disease)
- Increased risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Especially those who also take medicines for type 2 diabetes such as sulfonylureas or insulin
- Kidney problems (kidney failure)
- Change in vision in patients with type 2 diabetes
- Increased heart rate
- Depression or thoughts of suicide
Don’t let these uncommon side effects scare you; the benefits of semaglutide can outweigh the potential risks.
Being overweight increases your likelihood of developing serious health conditions like heart disease and stroke, so striving to get your weight in a healthy range is vital.
How alcohol affects your symptoms
There's limited information about the effects of alcohol while taking semaglutide. But it may worsen some of the side effects.
Alcohol and semaglutide are both known to lower your blood sugar. So, with these substances combined, you may become lightheaded and dizzy.
If semaglutide makes you dizzy, you should limit your alcoholic beverages in order to not heighten your symptoms.
Do not drive or use heavy machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
Semaglutide weight loss injections could be the helping hand you need to achieve long-term weight loss. But we understand that reading the long list of potential side effects can be daunting!
It’s important to remember that, for most people taking this medication, the benefits outweigh the risks. With semaglutide, you could be on your way to a healthier, happier life.
Do you feel that weight loss injections are right for you? The next step is a consultation with one of our prescribing pharmacists. They'll see if you’re suitable to start treatment.