Semaglutide, a medication commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity, has gained significant attention in recent years due to its effectiveness in helping patients achieve better blood sugar control and weight management. And most recently, clinical studies have shown that it also helps lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
But, some individuals who take semaglutide may experience nausea. In this podcast, we’ll talk about why nausea happens with semaglutide and provide valuable insights on managing this side effect. Understanding why this happens and learning effective management strategies can significantly improve the overall experience for individuals taking semaglutide.
Why does nausea happen with semaglutide?
Nausea is a common side effect of many medications, including semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy). It’s not clear why semaglutide may cause nausea, but it may have to do with the way the medication works.
Remember, semaglutide slows down how fast food leaves the stomach. Because of this, food stays in the stomach longer, which can lead to extra pressure inside the belly or can affect the nerves in the gut. This, in turn, may cause bothersome side effects like nausea and vomiting and other stomach-related side effects.
How long does nausea typically last?
This depends. For most people, the nausea goes away as their body gets used to taking semaglutide. But remember, it can happen each time semaglutide doses are increased.
How can you manage nausea from semaglutide?
Take It Slow and be patient: When starting semaglutide, it’s important to follow the prescribed dosage and administration instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it allows your body to adjust more easily, potentially reducing the intensity and frequency of nausea. In fact, studies show that people taking higher doses of semaglutide were more likely to experience nausea.
The typical starting dose of semaglutide is 0.25 mg weekly. The maximum dose of semaglutide for weight loss is 2.4 mg, and 2 mg weekly for type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to communicate the side effects you’re experiencing with semaglutide. This way, they can decide if you should increase or stay on your current dose.
Timing Matters: Take semaglutide at a time of day when you are less likely to be bothered by nausea. Although semaglutide is a long-acting medication, some people find it helpful to take the medication before bedtime so they sleep through the initial side effects.
Stay Hydrated: Nausea can often be exacerbated by dehydration. Ensure you drink enough water throughout the day, which can help alleviate feelings of queasiness.
The general rule is to take your weight in pounds and divide the number in half. This is about how many ounces of water you should drink daily. For example, a person who weighs 200 lbs should drink about 100 ounces or 3 liters of water daily. This is about five 20-ounce bottles of water daily.
Keep in mind: People living in hot climates or physically active should drink more water to replace the fluids lost through sweat.
Dietary Changes: Sometimes, certain foods and drinks can trigger or worsen nausea. Avoid greasy or spicy meals, and opt for lighter, easily digestible foods. Small, frequent meals can also help manage nausea better than large, infrequent ones. It’s also best to avoid caffeine if you’re feeling nauseous.
Try to avoid refined sugars, which are usually found in processed foods. These include packaged snacks, candy, soda, cakes, cookies, and cereals. These foods aren’t filling and can cause nausea and lead to more weight gain. Focus on incorporating nutrient-rich whole foods like quinoa, beans, and sweet potato. These foods will help you feel full longer and don’t cause nausea.
Try ginger: Natural remedies like ginger can have anti-nausea effects. Consider sipping ginger tea or chewing a piece of raw ginger to alleviate nausea symptoms.
Listen to your body: The most important thing to remember is that semaglutide makes you feel fuller faster and reduces your appetite. Because of this, it’s important to listen to your body and engage with food differently than before.
You’ll need to retrain how you approach snacks and meals. It will take time to learn how much you can eat before you feel full. But listening to your body will help you from overeating and avoid side effects like nausea.
As a general rule, it’s important to start by reducing the size of your meals and the frequency of your snacks. You can do this by creating a meal you would typically eat and cutting the portion size in half. Try eating slowly and paying attention to how you feel to help you determine if you’re full. If you’re still hungry, you can slowly eat more food. Studies have shown that when you eat slower, you suppress ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry.
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider: If nausea persists or becomes unbearable, it’s crucial to communicate with your healthcare provider. They can adjust the dosage, provide additional prescription anti-nausea medications such as Zofran, or explore other weight loss options.
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