- Wegovy is an injectable medication that helps with weight loss.
- The most common side effects of Wegovy are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Most patients taking GLP-1 RAs, like Wegovy, report their symptoms are short and resolve on their own while taking the medication.
- Try some general tips for reducing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Wegovy (semaglutide) is an injectable medication to promote weight loss in individuals with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 or those with a BMI of 27 and weight-related medical problems. Wegovy was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2021.
Research shows that it is quite effective. A study of 1,961 adults found those taking Wegovy alongside lifestyle intervention for 68 weeks lost 14.9% of their body weight and an average of 15.3kg (33 pounds), compared to a 2.4% body weight loss and an average of 2.4kg (5 pounds) in the lifestyle intervention only group.
While Wegovy is effective, it can be expensive depending on insurance coverage. It may cause undesirable side effects.
In this article, you’ll learn about Wegovy, the potential duration and intensity of its side effects, and how to manage them.
What is Wegovy?
Wegovy, a glucagon-like-peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RAs), is a once-weekly injectable weight loss medication.
Wegovy works by reducing appetite, increasing satiety, and slowing gastric transit time in the stomach, leading to weight loss. Wegovy is injected subcutaneously (into fatty tissue) in the arm, thigh, or stomach.
Wegovy is prescribed for the following situations:
- Adults with a BMI of 30 or greater.
- Adults with a BMI of 27 or greater and type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
- Children 12 years and older with a BMI at the 95th percentile or greater for age and sex.
Wegovy is encouraged to be used long-term, alongside lifestyle intervention, to assist with weight loss.
Thirty percent of Americans have a BMI between 25 and 29.99, and another 42.4% have a BMI greater than 30. Higher BMIs can lead to a greater risk of insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Long-term weight loss can help alleviate or prevent many weight-related health conditions
Weight loss can be difficult. Research shows that most individuals regain half of their lost weight within two years and 80% of the lost weight by five years.
Changing daily lifestyle habits requires ongoing support and personalized education. Research on 2,822 people confirms that working with a dietitian can help people lose more weight compared to without a dietitian’s help.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling and can help you lose weight. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
Healthcare professionals use medications to assist individuals and achieve significant weight loss to help reverse weight-related medical conditions.
Weight loss medications are limited by their effectiveness, safety and side effects, and cost.
Wegovy can cause mild to serious side effects.
Common Side Effects of Wegovy
There are several mild and serious side effects of Wegovy:
Mild Side Effects
The prescribing information from Wegovy lists the most common side effects as those that occur in at least 5% of individuals taking Wegovy.
- Abdominal pain.
- Fatigue (low energy).
- Dyspepsia (upset stomach).
- Abdominal distention or bloating.
- Eructation (burping).
- Low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Gastroenteritis (infection or inflammation of the digestive system).
- Nasopharyngitis (mild infection of the respiratory system, a common cold).
Most gastrointestinal (GI) side effects were mild to moderate, short-term, and resolved independently without stopping Wegovy.
The research showed about 74% of those taking Wegovy had GI symptoms compared to 48% taking the placebo.
Serious Side Effects
- Possibly thyroid tumors, including medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), in those with a noted personal or family history of MTC.
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) with symptoms of stomach pain.
- Diabetic retinopathy complications (damage to the blood vessels of the eyes) with symptoms of vision changes.
- Acute kidney injury or failure.
- Acute gallbladder disease (swelling of the gallbladder) and gallstones.
- Hypersensitivity or allergic reactions.
- Low blood sugar with insulin or sulfonylurea use in people with type 2 diabetes. Low blood sugar symptoms can include dizziness, blurred vision, anxiety, mood changes, sweating, slurred speech, hunger, drowsiness, shakiness, weakness, headaches, and fast heartbeat.
- Depression or thoughts of suicide.
- Increased heart rate.
Communicating with your healthcare provider before starting Wegovy is essential as you may be at a higher risk for these severe side effects.
Watch for any of these changes after taking Wegovy, and talk with your doctor about concerns.
Women planning to become pregnant should stop Wegovy two months before, along with breastfeeding women. It is not known if Wegovy passes into breast milk.
Do Wegovy Side Effects Go Away?
Some people have side effects, while others do not.
Adults in the clinical trial reported that about 74% of those taking Wegovy had GI symptoms compared to 48% taking the placebo.
Additionally, 6.8% of the patients permanently discontinued Wegovy due to the side effects, though it’s unclear when the side effects started or stopped over the course of the 68-week trial.
GLP-1 RAs cause GI side effects when starting the medication or after increasing the dose. It is thought that the GLP-1 receptors in the brain are triggered, causing GI issues, not from the GI system itself.
Most patients taking GLP-1 RAs report their symptoms are short and resolve on their own while taking the medication.
How Long Do the Side Effects Last?
Most patients taking GLP-1 RAs, like Wegovy, report their symptoms are short and resolve on their own while taking the medication.
The drug’s website does not indicate how long the side effects last.
However, contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or do not go away.
Ways to Manage Wegovy Side Effects
Nausea is the most common side effect. Nausea is reported in 44% of those taking Wegovy.
Other frequently reported symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea.
Tips for Managing Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting affect each person differently. Try these general tips first.
Then work with a dietitian or your doctor to manage nausea and vomiting. They can help customize solutions to fit your specific needs.
- Try bland, dry foods like crackers, rice, or toast.
- Don’t get too hungry, as nausea can worsen when not eating enough.
- Eat small meals and snacks.
- Choose cool-temperature foods with fewer odors.
- Eat slowly and chew your food well.
- Avoid lying down after eating.
- Fresh air and the outdoors help reduce nausea.
- Avoid getting too hot.
Tips for Managing Diarrhea
People can usually manage occasional diarrhea at home.
Diarrhea that doesn’t go away can cause dehydration. Drinking plenty of water and oral rehydration drinks can help replenish the water lost from diarrhea. Speak with your doctor if the diarrhea continues.
Wegovy helps people achieve significant weight loss when taken long-term and with healthy lifestyle intervention.
Wegovy can cause mild to serious side effects. Most side effects are GI-related. They include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Most people taking GLP-1 RAs, like Wegovy, report short-term side effects that resolve on their own while continuing to take the medication.
Try some home management tips for relieving nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How Nourish Can Help
Connect with an expert on managing nutrition and weight loss. A weight loss nutritionist can help you achieve long-term weight loss and equip you with the tools to be successful.
Frequently Asked Questions
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