Understanding the Side Effects of Semaglutide: What You Need to Know

One medication getting a lot of attention lately as a weight loss aid is Ozempic, a brand name for semaglutide. Its newfound popularity can partially be attributed to its ability to aid the body in lowering blood sugar but also to its potential for slimming. Who doesn’t want a safe, easy way to drop some pounds?

While it can be highly effective in controlling diabetes, and some people may experience weight loss due to its effects on appetite and gastric emptying, it’s essential to be aware of its potential side effects when used both on and off-label. In this article, we’ll explore the common, less common and rare side effects of semaglutide.

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is a medication created to treat type 2 diabetes. It’s part of a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, which lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production and reducing glucose production in the liver.

How it Works

Semaglutide works by mimicking the actions of the hormone GLP-1, which is released in response to food intake. This hormone stimulates insulin production, reduces glucose production in the liver, and slows down gastric emptying, which helps control blood sugar levels.

Forms and Usage

Semaglutide is available in two forms: a once-weekly injectable medication (Ozempic®) and an oral tablet taken once daily (Rybelsus®). Living with diabetes is challenging; finding the right medication to manage blood sugar levels can be part of that battle.

Off-Label Uses for Semaglutide

While semaglutide is primarily prescribed for treating type 2 diabetes, there are some off-label uses due to its effects on weight loss and appetite regulation. Off-label usage should still only be used under the guidance and supervision of a medical professional, like our trained experts at Lucienne. Patients should never self-prescribe or use semaglutide for any purpose other than what it has been prescribed for without consulting their care provider.

Off-label uses include:

Obesity Management

Some doctors may prescribe semaglutide to help patients with obesity lose weight. The medication can lead to weight loss by suppressing appetite and slowing gastric emptying, making people feel full longer. However, semaglutide should not be considered a standalone weight loss treatment but rather as part of a comprehensive weight management plan that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Although not a primary treatment for PCOS, some doctors may consider prescribing semaglutide to help patients with PCOS who also have insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity can potentially alleviate some PCOS symptoms.

Common Side Effects of Semaglutide

While semaglutide is safe, it can also cause some common side effects. These may include:

Gastrointestinal issues

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation are common gastrointestinal side effects of semaglutide. These issues usually occur during the first few weeks of treatment and often improve over time.

Fatigue and Dizziness

Some people may experience fatigue, dizziness, or lightheadedness while taking semaglutide. This is usually temporary and may improve as the body adjusts to the medication.

Injection Site Reactions

For those using the injectable form of semaglutide, redness, swelling or pain at the injection site may occur. These reactions are generally mild and resolve on their own.

Less Common Side Effects

In addition to the common side effects, some people may experience less common issues, such as:


Although semaglutide is less likely to cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) than other diabetes medications, it can still occur, especially when combined with other diabetes treatments like insulin or sulfonylureas. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include sweating, shakiness, irritability and confusion.

Kidney Problems

In some cases, semaglutide can cause or worsen kidney problems which would be more likely to occur in individuals with pre-existing kidney disease or those taking other medications that affect kidney function.

Rare but Serious Side Effects

While rare, there are some severe side effects associated with semaglutide that require immediate medical attention:

Diabetic Retinopathy Complications

Semaglutide may increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy complications, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the retina and can lead to vision problems.


Pancreatitis is a rare but serious side effect of semaglutide. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. If you suspect pancreatitis, contact your doctor immediately.

Thyroid Tumors

Semaglutide has been associated with an increased risk of thyroid tumors in animal studies. While the risk in humans is not fully understood, it’s important to be aware of potential symptoms of the neck, such as a lump, hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.

Managing Side Effects

If you experience any severe or persistent side effects or have concerns about your medication, it’s essential to contact your care provider immediately. They can help determine the cause of the issue and recommend appropriate adjustments to your treatment plan.

But, if you experience minor side effects while taking semaglutide, you can avoid or reduce some with a few lifestyle changes.

Tips for Gastrointestinal Side Effects

To minimize gastrointestinal side effects, start with a low dose of semaglutide and gradually increase it as your doctor directs. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and keeping hydrated can ease these faster.

Dealing with Fatigue and Dizziness

Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery if you experience fatigue or dizziness until these symptoms subside. Resting and staying hydrated can also help alleviate these issues.

Coping with Injection Site Reactions

To reduce injection site reactions, change the site each time you administer the medication. Applying a cold pack may also help alleviate discomfort.

Visit Lucienne and Meet Your Weight Loss Experts Today!

Want to try semaglutide for weight management in the Salt Lake City area? Come into Lucienne and see if this treatment is right for you.


Can I take semaglutide if I have type 1 diabetes?

Semaglutide is not approved for treating type 1 diabetes. It’s specifically designed for people with type 2 diabetes and can cause severe complications when improperly taken.

Can semaglutide be taken with other diabetes medications?

Semaglutide can be taken with other diabetes medications, such as metformin or insulin. However, discuss your treatment options with your doctor for your safety when deciding on a plan to reach your health goals.

How long does it take for semaglutide to start working?

You may notice improvements in your blood sugar levels within a few weeks of starting semaglutide. Weight loss effects may take up to eight weeks, with most people seeing results within 12 weeks. Clinical trials have shown that taking a weekly dose of semaglutide had a 5-10% average reduction in body weight. However, weight loss results are not guaranteed for everyone and may require other adjustments before seeing desired effects.

Can I stop taking semaglutide at any time?

Consult your prescriber before stopping or changing any medications, including semaglutide. Stopping the medicine without medical advice can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels and increase your risk of complications.