Gutbliss - Dr. Robynne Chutkan


Most side-effects of Ozempic are gut related

The most common side-effects of the weight-loss drug Ozempic are gut related. Here’s what you need to know.

Ozempic, also known as Semaglutide, is a synthetic form of a human hormone called glucagon-like peptide one (GLP-1), that’s secreted in our gut and helps our body know when we’re full. The drug causes the stomach to empty more slowly, decreases appetite, and also lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin release. Given the effects of GLP-1 on the GI tract, it’s not surprising that the most common adverse reactions of Ozempic are gut related: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation. In rare cases the drug can also cause pancreatitis – serious swelling and inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that makes insulin, and there’s also a risk of thyroid cancer. 

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved Ozempic as a treatment for type 2 diabetes because of its effect on blood sugar levels, but many people taking Ozempic are taking it not for management of diabetes but for weight loss. While there’s an argument to be made that for people who have obesity and significant health risks because of their weight, the benefits of the drug may outweigh the many side effects, for those who are minimally overweight, the cost-benefit ratio is not nearly as attractive. Like any medication, the potential risks of Ozempic must be considered carefully, especially if you’re already suffering from a GI disorder or have gut-related symptoms. 

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Dr Robynne Chutkan
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