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Does Ozempic Cause Diarrhea? How to Manage This Side Effect

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Does Ozempic Cause Diarrhea? How to Manage This Side Effect

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication that helps people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. 
  • A small percentage of clinical trial participants experience side effects while taking Ozempic, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
  • Ozempic diarrhea typically doesn’t last more than three days, and there are some strategies to help prevent or decrease diarrhea.

Ozempic is a newer medication that helps people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

The medication has many benefits, including protection against cardiovascular events, helping with weight loss, and it’s a convenient once-weekly injection. 

It does, however, come with several side effects, including diarrhea.

The good news is that these side effects tend to last a short time while your body adjusts to the medication. 

If you are experiencing diarrhea while taking Ozempic, you can try several at-home treatments to find relief. 

Read on to learn more about why Ozempic may be causing your diarrhea, how to treat diarrhea, and when to seek medical attention.

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Does Ozempic Cause Diarrhea?

Unfortunately, all medications come with possible side effects, Ozempic included.

However, the side effects of Ozempic only affect some people and may be less common than you think.

During clinical trials, the most common side effect was nausea.

Here is a breakdown of the percentage of people who experienced side effects while taking 1mg Ozempic weekly:

In another study looking at the results of individuals taking 2.4 mg of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, participants who reported diarrhea as a side effect only experienced diarrhea for about 3 days

Why Does Ozempic Cause Diarrhea? 

The reason why Ozempic causes diarrhea is unclear. 

Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist medication.

This drug class is known to affect the digestive system several ways, which may be why people tend to get digestive side effects when taking it. 

To help keep blood sugar in a healthy range, Ozempic reduces how much glucagon (sugar) the liver produces, stimulates the pancreas to release insulin when blood sugar rises, and slows the rate of food leaving the stomach during digestion.

These three mechanisms of action may be what causes some people to feel nauseous and have changes in their bowel movements when taking Ozempic. 

How to Treat Ozempic Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be uncomfortable and inconvenient.

But remember, this side effect should not last more than a few days.

Here are some things you can try to get symptom relief.  

Fluids

Stay hydrated.

While having diarrhea, you’ll lose extra fluids, and it’s critical to drink extra water and hydrating foods throughout the day.

Staying hydrated is important for your overall health and may help limit other side effects, such as nausea and constipation. 

To keep yourself hydrated, follow these tips:

  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you.
  • Opt for water over sugary drinks.
  • Drink water with your meals.
  • Add a wedge of lemon, lime, or another fruit to your water for flavor.

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Avoid Certain Foods

While you don’t need to make dramatic changes to your diet if you have diarrhea, certain foods may make your diarrhea worse, and you might want to avoid them. 

These include:

  • Caffeinated beverages.
  • Dairy products.
  • Greasy and high-fat foods.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Apples, peaches, and pears.
  • Foods or drinks containing fructose.
  • Diet drinks or sugarless gum and candies. 

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacterial organisms that greatly benefit your health when you ingest or apply them to your skin.

You have bacteria living on your skin and in your digestive tract that act as a barrier against sickness or infection by crowding out bad bacteria. 

Research has been done on probiotics to see if any strains, when taken while having diarrhea, can help stop it.

Experts found that Saccharomyces boulardii was the single most effective probiotic strain to stop diarrhea.

They also found that other beneficial strains included Lactobacillus reuteri, and Bifidobacterium lactis. 

If you are experiencing diarrhea, try taking a probiotic that contains these strains, as it may help slow your diarrhea. 

Medications

Most of the time, you can treat diarrhea with medication you find over-the-counter (OTC) at your local drugstore.

However, it’s not a good idea to use these medications if you have any blood in your diarrhea or have a fever.

If you're experiencing bloody stool or fever, it’s important to follow up with your doctor. 

Here are several OTC drugs that treat diarrhea:

  • Loperamide (Imodium)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate)

If your diarrhea persists for several days, be sure to let your doctor know.

They may want to make changes to your medication dose or look for an alternative medication. 

Tips for Preventing Ozempic Diarrhea

You may not be able to prevent all diarrhea while taking Ozempic, but here are a few strategies you can try.

  • Start with a low dose: Your doctor will start you on a low dose of Ozempic and gradually work you up to the full-strength dose. This allows your body time to adjust to the medication, and side effects will naturally subside. 
  • Eat a balanced diet: Keep eating your normal diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. As was previously mentioned, limit foods that may cause your diarrhea to worsen.
  • Start your probiotic before your next dose increase: Try taking your probiotic several days before your doctor increases your dose. This may help prepare your intestines for the change and reduce or prevent diarrhea.
  • Be patient: Remember that the diarrhea shouldn’t last more than several days. If you can, make adjustments to your schedule so you can be in a comfortable place for a few days while you may be experiencing diarrhea.

Always follow your doctor and pharmacist's instructions for taking your medication, and don’t make any changes without consulting them first. 

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When to Seek Medical Attention

It’s very important to seek medical attention for the following:

  • You develop a fever, chills, or vomiting.
  • Blood in your diarrhea.
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy.
  • Urinating less than usual.
  • Dark-colored urine.

These may be signs that your diarrhea is not related to Ozempic, and may be a sign of infection or severely dehydrated and need medical intervention.

Takeaway

Ozempic is a great tool for managing blood sugar for type 2 diabetes.

This newer medication is a GLP-1 agonist that is effective at managing blood sugar, helping with weight loss, and protecting against cardiovascular events.

However, Ozempic has several side effects that may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

Only a small number of people experience these side effects and most report that they only last a few days, typically when the dose increases.  

How a Dietitian Can Help

Find a dietitian who can help create a personalized eating plan to help you satisfy your nutrition and hydration requirements while having diarrhea.

They can recommend foods that may be less aggravating to your digestive system and suggest alternatives to ensure you’re comfortable.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does diarrhea from Ozempic go away?

Yes, diarrhea experienced as a side effect of Ozempic generally resolves within a few days.

Most people find that this symptom goes away as their body adjusts to the medication.

How long does semaglutide diarrhea last?

During research, the few people who experience diarrhea reported that the symptoms went away within about three days.

What foods cause diarrhea with Ozempic?

Foods may not be the direct cause of diarrhea while taking Ozempic.

However, some foods, such as dairy products, greasy, fatty, or spicy foods, irritate the digestive tract and may worsen Ozempic diarrhea.

References

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