While you may not need to rule out weight loss medications such as Wegovy or Ozempic from your weight loss strategy, there are some side effects to be aware of.
Wegovy is a prescription medication that was developed to help adults with obesity to lose weight and manage their weight. Ozempic is a prescription drug that was originally developed as a diabetes medication but is now being as an off-label weight loss medication. As with any medications, there are side effects associated with Wegovy and Ozempic.
Wegovy vs Ozempic Side Effects
The most commonly reported side effects of Wegovy and Ozempic are displayed in the table below:
*Although Ozempic side effects include hair loss (Wegovy, too), hair loss is believed to be attributed to the stress of rapid weight loss on your body.
Semaglutide Side Effects
The active ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic is semaglutide, and there are side effects of semaglutide. For many patients, side effects start within the first few weeks after beginning semaglutide use. To avoid or limit side effects, you should speak with your doctor about beginning with a smaller dose and increasing the dosage as your body acclimates to the medication.
The most common side effect is nausea, followed by diarrhea. Your greatest risk of nausea happens after your dose is increased. Avoiding fried, greasy and spicy foods can help reduce your risk of nausea; eating slowly and consuming smaller portions can also help.
Side effects are typically temporary, lasting only a few days to a few weeks but could persist for longer periods.
Ozempic Stomach Paralysis
There have been reports that some patients taking Ozempic are at an increased risk of experiencing stomach paralysis, a condition in which one’s stomach is slower to empty. While this delayed emptying has positive effects, most notably a decrease in hunger, there are several negative effects such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. More severe effects include dehydration because stomach paralysis promotes a feeling of fullness such that you may not want to eat or drink anything at all. Though Ozempic’s stomach paralysis side effect is rare, it is something to monitor.
Consider Multiple Approaches to Weight Loss and Management
Anti-obesity medications such as Wegovy and Ozempic, though helpful, do not represent a singular approach to weight loss or weight management. Before you are swept up in the promise of weight loss medications as the panacea you’ve been waiting for, consider them as one tool in your weight loss toolbox
As you and your health care provider decide on the utility of Wegovy and Ozempic, be sure to consider the more traditional and repeatedly proven strategies for weight loss, such as lifestyle changes, calorie restriction and exercise. Before beginning any weight loss program, whether it includes anti-obesity medication or not, be sure to consult with your health care provider to make sure your desired weight loss strategy is right for you.
About the Author: Dr. Dawn M. Sweet has over 20 years of experience in the field of communication. Sweet has given several invited talks to and workshops for academic and private sector audiences on the role of nonverbal and verbal communication in achieving positive outcomes and mitigating bias. Her research has been published in several top ranked peer-review journals, and it has been featured on NPR’s River to River / All Things Considered, Buzzfeed, and Science Daily.Her research has also been used to inform expert testimony.
* Wegovy® and Ozempic® are registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S. Novo Nordisk is a registered trademark of Novo Nordisk A/S.