Exploring The Facts: Understanding Potential Wegovy Side Effects


In 2021, a drug called Wegovy was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss. The FDA approved this injectable prescription medication for use in conjunction with regular physical activity and a reduced-calorie diet.

Since its approval, this medication has become popular among celebrities and other public figures worldwide for its rapid weight loss benefits.

However, Wegovy is intended to be used by people with obesity or weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or cholesterol — rather than for cosmetic weight loss.

Although this medication can help obese people lose significant body weight, it may cause some unpleasant side effects.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common side effects people may experience when taking Wegovy and what you can do to cope with them.

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What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is a brand name for a medication containing the active ingredient semaglutide. This compound falls under the category of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, which play a role in stimulating the pancreas to release insulin.

When you eat, your blood sugar levels rise. The additional insulin prompted by a (GLP-1) receptor agonist works to counteract this rise in blood sugar.

This is why drugs that contain semaglutide are often used to manage diabetes – a condition where the body struggles with blood sugar regulation.

Many people taking Wegovy experience some side effects, although these are often mild.

Key Point: What to Tell Your Doctor Before Taking Wegovy

Before your doctor can prescribe Wegovy, they will need to know if you:

  • Have any medical conditions such as kidney or pancreas problems
  • Have a family history of thyroid C cell tumors or medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Are taking other medications
  • Have a history of pancreas problems
  • Are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceive

Being honest with your healthcare provider can decrease your risk of experiencing the serious side effects of Wegovy.

The Most Common Side Effects of Taking Wegovy

Wegovy is known for causing some uncomfortable or unpleasant side effects. Some people may even stop their Wegovy treatment because of these adverse reactions.

One of the main causes of these side effects is a result of delayed gastric emptying.

This occurs because Wegovy increases the amount of time that food remains in the stomach and the digestive system.

Delayed gastric emptying can have a negative effect on the digestive system and cause some (or all) of the following symptoms.

Stomach pain

Abdominal pain and discomfort have been widely reported as a side effect of taking Wegovy.

The changes in eating habits brought about by Wegovy may also cause this side effect.

Upset stomach

Some people taking Wegovy may experience diarrhea. It’s not fully understood why this is the case, but it could be related to the gastrointestinal changes that this medication causes.

Nausea and vomiting

As mentioned above, Wegovy slows down how fast the stomach empties after eating, which can lead to nausea and potentially cause vomiting.

Headaches

Although it is not completely understood why Wegovy causes headaches, it’s believed that this side effect may be due to how the medication influences blood sugar levels and may even impact blood flow to the brain.

Dizziness

Both the nausea and vomiting mentioned above can lead to feelings of dizziness. However, it is also believed that Wegovy’s impact on blood sugar could also make you feel dizzy.

Wegovy can affect blood pressure levels, although this is usually a mild side effect. Changes in blood pressure – particularly if levels are lowered – can also cause dizziness in certain individuals. Fatigue

Some people taking Wegovy may experience fatigue, which is feeling overly tired on a regular basis.

This side effect may be due to how Wegovy changes the way that the metabolism works and how the body uses energy.

Constipation

While some people may experience diarrhea due to delayed gastric emptying, others may struggle to have bowel movements.

Because Wegovy keeps food in the stomach for longer, this could slow down how quickly it moves through the bowel, leading to constipation.

Low blood sugar levels

Although not as common as the side effects mentioned above, Wegovy can cause hypoglycemia, which is characterized by low blood glucose levels.

This occurs more frequently when Wegovy is taken in conjunction with other diabetes medications like insulin or sulfonylureas.

The combination of these medications can cause blood sugar levels to become too low, which can lead to other symptoms like:

  • Shakiness

  • Dizziness

  • Sweating

  • Confusion

Key Point: How Long Do the Side Effects of Wegovy Last?

The mild side effects mentioned above should subside within the first few weeks of starting Wegovy.

If you experience persistent side effects for several weeks or if they get progressively worse, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider.

How to Reduce the Side Effects of Wegovy

There are steps you can take to reduce some of the side effects associated with using Wegovy. These include:

  • Watching what you eat: Eating bland, low-fat foods as much as possible when you first start using Wegovy can help avoid further upsetting your stomach. Foods that are high in fat or are very rich can lead to nausea and vomiting.

  • Eating slowly: Chewing properly and slowing down the rate at which you consume food may help prevent the gastrointestinal side effects of Wegovy. Eating slower can make your food easier to digest.

  • Avoiding lying down directly after eating: Allowing your food to settle in your stomach before lying down can make you feel better.

  • Getting fresh air: It’s a good idea to venture outdoors and enjoy some fresh air, particularly if you are feeling nauseous.

  • Staying hydrated: Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. If you are experiencing these side effects, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  • Always following your healthcare provider’s advice: Ensure that you take your Wegovy as directed and only use the prescribed dose.

  • Asking your doctor about gradual dosing: Your doctor may start you off on a low dose of Wegovy and slowly increase the amount you inject. This approach can allow the body to adapt to the medication without any side effects.

  • Avoiding alcohol: Alcohol consumption may worsen some side effects of Wegovy, such as nausea.

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Serious Side Effects of Wegovy Injections

While serious side effects are significantly rare, it’s important to be on the lookout for them. Stop taking Wegovy completely if you suspect you have any of the below serious side effects.

Pancreatitis

This condition is characterized by the swelling and inflammation of an organ in the lower part of the stomach called the pancreas.

Some research has found that GLP-1 receptor agonists — like Wegovy — may cause pancreatitis.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Severe nausea

  • Vomiting

If you’ve previously had pancreatitis, you have an increased risk of developing this condition again while taking Wegovy.

Gallbladder disease

The rapid weight loss associated with Wegovy can cause gallbladder-related complications.

This is because the weight loss people experience can increase the development of gallstones, leading to gallbladder disease.

Some symptoms of gallbladder problems include:

  • Severe pain in the upper right abdomen

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fever and chills

Thyroid tumors and cancer

In some animal studies, it has been found that the active ingredient in Wegovy, semaglutide, may cause tumors to develop in the thyroid gland.

It’s important to note that tumors and thyroid cancer have not yet been observed as side effects in humans, and more research is needed.

However, Wegovy does carry a boxed warning — the most serious warning from the FDA — for this side effect.

You also have an increased risk of thyroid tumors if you take Wegovy and have a history of nodules or cancer of the gland.

Kidney problems

In certain instances, some people taking Wegovy have experienced kidney injury.

It’s worth noting that kidney disease and failure of this organ can cause life-threatening medical problems.

If you notice any of the following symptoms relating to kidney function, be sure to report it to your doctor right away:

  • Changes in urination patterns

  • Swelling in the hands and feet

  • Blood in the urine

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue or confusion

  • Weakness

  • An irregular heartbeat

Serious allergic reactions

Some people may develop an allergic reaction — also known as anaphylaxis — when they take Wegovy. Serious allergic reactions typically result in the following symptoms:

  • Hives or a severe rash

  • Swelling around the mouth, throat, tongue, or face

  • Severe nausea and vomiting

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • A weak or rapid pulse

  • Dizziness or fainting

If you suspect you are experiencing a serious allergic reaction, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. A serious allergic reaction is a medical emergency.

Mental changes

Wegovy has also been found to make some people agitated, irritable, and they may even experience irregular mood changes. It may also cause some people to become depressed or have suicidal thoughts.

If you notice any changes in your mood while taking Wegovy, alert your healthcare provider immediately.

If you have a history of depression and suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you are honest with your doctor about this, as it may mean Wegovy is not the right weight management solution for you.

The Long-Term Side Effects of Wegovy

While Wegovy has taken the weight loss industry by storm, it is still a relatively new drug.

This means that plenty of research still needs to be done to determine the long-term side effects of Wegovy and similar weight loss medications.

Because the long-term side effects of taking Wegovy are mostly unknown, it is essential that you see your healthcare provider regularly while taking this medication to monitor any serious or long-term side effects.

Where Can I Learn More About Wegovy Side Effects?

LifeMD can connect you with a licensed medical professional to discuss obesity or weight-related health conditions.

A healthcare provider can evaluate your health and prescribe Wegovy if this treatment is right for you. LifeMD also offers a Weight Management Program that combines groundbreaking medications, lab testing, and the knowledge of leading clinicians to create a highly effective — and truly sustainable — weight-loss approach. With this program, you'll receive personalized care for all your weight-related concerns.

Schedule a same-day online appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner to learn more about Wegovy and weight loss.

Janice Cahambing, PMHNP

Janice is a board-certified nurse practitioner with over a decade of experience in primary care medicine. She champions a patient-centered approach, fostering collaborative partnerships to proactively manage overall well-being. Committed to personalized and culturally sensitive care, Janice emphasizes preventive medicine and health education, empowering patients to play an active role in their health. Beyond her medical commitment, Janice finds joy in the outdoors, indulging in hiking, biking, and camping. Her personal passion for nature underscores her belief in its positive impact on well-being, reflecting her dedication to a healthy lifestyle.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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