man holding semaglutide
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 1, 2023 ·  5 min read

14 Semaglutide Side Effects You Should Know About

Semaglutide is a medication that is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. It is also sometimes used as a weight loss drug. While semaglutide can be an effective treatment for diabetes and weight loss, like any medication, it can also come with side effects. Those side effects, it turns out, are not at all that uncommon.

14 Semaglutide Side Effects You Should Know About

Taking medications is never something that should be done lightly. No matter what the drug and for what purpose, there are almost always side effects and potential consequences. Semaglutide, commonly known by brand names Wegovy and Ozempic, is no exception to that. Do a quick internet forum search and you will find these pages teaming with horror stories about how these drugs have affected them. Beware: These side effects are anything but pretty. (1, 2)

1. Nausea

One of the most common side effects of semaglutide is nausea. This can occur when you first start taking the medication and may go away as your body adjusts. Up to 20% of patients report experiencing nausea while taking these drugs. The higher the dose, the more nausea you will experience – and it’s the weight loss prescriptions that are usually higher doses. If you experience severe nausea, you should speak with your health care provider. (3)

2. Vomiting

Vomiting is another common side effect of semaglutide. Again, the higher the dose, the more likely you are to experience vomiting and the more intense it is likely to be. If you experience vomiting, it is important to stay hydrated and speak with your health care provider if it persists.

3. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is another common side effect of semaglutide. Like nausea and vomiting, it may go away as your body adjusts to the medication. The problem here is that many people find these drugs make them constipated – until it doesn’t. At this point, you have no control over when your body decides to release this and where. Online you can find many stories of people having defecated in their bed, and others in public places. Just as many report this diarrhea having persisted for several days.

4. Abdominal Pain

Some people may experience abdominal pain while taking semaglutide. This can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. This is often due to first the constipation and then afterward due to the diarrhea.

5. Constipation

While diarrhea is a common side effect of semaglutide, some people may experience constipation instead. As already mentioned, many have found that they will start with constipation and then this will change to diarrhea. Sometimes, too, the diarrhea begins as they take other medications to help with their constipation.

6. Headache

Headaches are a common side effect of many medications, including semaglutide. These can range in their severity. If you experience severe headaches, you should speak with your doctor.

7. Dizziness

Some people may experience dizziness while taking semaglutide. This can be a side effect of low blood sugar levels, so it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. This is especially important if you are taking other blood sugar lowering medications.

8. Fatigue

Fatigue is another common side effect of semaglutide. One of the ways this medication works is by making you feel less hungry. Eating significantly less found, however, could leave you at an energy deficit. If you experience severe fatigue, you should speak with your doctor.

9. Hypoglycemia

As already mentioned, semaglutide can cause low blood sugar levels, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, sweating, confusion, and dizziness. This isn’t normally reported when taking it alone, however, it has been when combined with other blood sugar medications. Be sure to have an open conversation with your health care provider what other medications you are on before considering this drug.

10. Pancreatitis

In rare cases, semaglutide can cause pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Contact your health care provider right away if you notice these symptoms.

11. Gallbladder Problems

Semaglutide can also increase the risk of gallbladder problems, such as gallstones. Gallstones can cause severe pain in the upper abdomen and may require surgery. If you have had gallbladder problems in the past, be sure to tell your health care provider before taking semaglutide.

12. Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience allergic reactions to semaglutide. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. Again, seek medical assistance immediately if you think you are having an allergic reaction to this drug.

13. Thyroid Cancer

There have been reports of thyroid cancer in people taking semaglutide. However, it is important to note that the risk of thyroid cancer is still very low. This has so far only been shown in animal studies, with no confirmed human risk currently.

14. Kidney Problems

In rare cases, semaglutide can cause kidney problems. This is more likely if you have severe nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea leading to dehydration. Symptoms of kidney problems include swelling in the feet or ankles, fatigue, and changes in urine output.

The Bottom Line

While semaglutide can be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes and weight loss, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects. That being said, severe side effects are not as common as social media might make you think, and this drug can offer health-changing weight loss for many people.

“Semaglutide is a legitimately effective medication. It provides health-altering weight loss,” said  Dr. Christopher McGowan, a board-certified physician in internal medicine, gastroenterology, and obesity medicine.“It has an overall excellent safety profile and is generally well tolerated.” (4)

 If you experience any of these side effects while taking semaglutide, you should speak with your doctor. It is also important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the medication.

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  1. Semaglutide Injection.” Medline Plus
  2. People on Ozempic for weight loss say they’re pooping their pants and the bed.” Insider. Anna Medaris. May 24, 2023.
  3. 14 Side Effects of Semaglutide for Type 2 Diabetes and Weight Loss.” Good Rx. Zuri C. Hawkins-Jarrett, PharmD, MPH, BCPS. May 3, 2023.
  4. Doctors share their biggest concerns about Ozempic, from muscle loss to hollowed faces.” Insider. Gabby Landsverk. March 24, 2023.