Prevalence rates of diabetes and obesity in the US is relatively high and a matter of concern, due to the growing numbers. Diabetes is known to afflict more than one tenth of the US population, while more than 40% of Americans are classified as obese. Both the conditions have the possibility to degenerate into more serious conditions. Various medications are prescribed separately for both the conditions, while a few formulations have positive outcomes in both the conditions. This includes Semaglutide, popularly known by its brand name Ozempic. Following sub sections offer in-depth information about the medication, its mechanism of action and possible side effects of Ozempic. This will help users and caregivers identify and mitigate or prevent the undesirable outcomes.

Overview of Ozempic and mechanism of action

Belonging to the category of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist, Ozempic is effective in glycemic control, thereby helping patients diagnosed with DM type 2. The medication is generally prescribed along with necessary changes in lifestyle to bring about desired results. Initially developed as an injection, the formulation as a tablet has been in use since 2019, after FDA approval. The tablet is intended to be taken once daily, and this puts it at an advantage over other medications that are typically recommended to be taken multiple times in a day. The medication was subsequently cleared for use in weight management treatment, two years later.

The medication works by binding to the GLP-1 receptor, thereby activating it and facilitating secretion of insulin. This brings about a reduction in blood glucose levels, in addition to reducing glycosylated hemoglobin levels which have an impact on body weight.

Conditions that can and cannot be treated with the medication

The following compilation lists out the conditions that can be treated with the medication and conditions that cannot be treated by the medication. It is recommended for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and delivers desired results when the treatment regimen includes lifestyle and dietary modifications. The medication, as outlined above, is also used for weight management, and helps reduce the probability of other obesity linked conditions. The formulation is known to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in patients with diabetes. The medication is not prescribed for patients who have been diagnosed with pancreatitis in the past.

It may be recommended for use either as the only medication for diabetes, or could also be combined with other medications, as a part of treatment regimen for type 2 diabetes.  Patients with diabetes are at risk of exposure to other conditions such as CVD or cardiovascular disease and kidney ailments. The medication, by virtue of controlling diabetes, can help in reducing the risk of these conditions. It is necessary to add here that the medication is not prescribed for use in treating type 1 diabetes, or for treating diabetic ketoacidosis.

Possible side effects of Ozempic

All medications come with the possibility of undesirable effects, and Ozempic is no exception. The effects may vary from person to person, with some experiencing mild or moderate effects, while others may experience strong or potent effects. The nature and intensity of effects depend on various factors, such as the age of the individual, the gender, the overall health condition, existence of other conditions, and medications in use. It also depends on the strength of the dosage; the frequency of intake and the condition being treated with the medication. Some individuals are known to be free from all side effects and may enjoy the benefits of medications without any adverse outcomes. The following is a small compilation of possible side effects; this is neither exhaustive nor complete in nature. It is intended to serve as a broad reference of the possible undesirable outcomes of the medication. There may be other effects other than those compiled below.

Mild or moderate effects are known to be more frequently occurring and may resolve naturally without the need for medical intervention. It could be a cause for concern in a limited number of cases, when the effects intensify or of the effects are persistent in nature. Serious or adverse effects may require medical intervention at the earliest, to prevent the condition from turning out of control. Most serious or adverse effects are known to occur very rarely and only when a given set of conditions or circumstances are fulfilled.

Commonly occurring undesirable effects of Ozempic

Effects that may be frequently reported or commonly occurring include the possibility of bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. Patients on the medication are likely to experience feelings of nausea, that may or may not be accompanied by throbbing headache. There is also the possibility of pain in the stomach, apart from an upset stomach. Contrary to the side effect of diarrhea, there is also the possibility of patients experiencing constipation; while others may have to put with flatulence. As mentioned earlier, these effects are more likely to be short term in nature and will not require any specific treatment, unless persistent or intense in nature.

Effects that are cause for concern

Effects that are considered as serious in nature include development of thyroid cancer. As mentioned above, patients who have had pancreatitis int eh past are not to take the medication, as one of the serious side effects of Ozempic is the possibility of developing pancreatitis. This can be identified through tell-tale symptoms; such as pain in the back and the stomach. Patients with the condition may experience feelings of nausea, that may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. There is also the likelihood of the patient ending up with sudden loss of weight. High grade fever is another possible symptom that is indicative of the side effect, apart from swelling in the stomach.

Other serious side effects of the medication include the possibility of lowered levels of blood glucose. Medically known as hypoglycemia, the condition presents certain distinct symptoms. Patients are advised to carefully look for the following symptoms and seek medical attention at the earliest. For instance, the individual may feel drowsy for no explained reason. There is also the possibility of throbbing headache being experienced, while some may appear confused. Individuals may feel extremely wean and tired without any involvement in strenuous physical activity. There could also be abnormal change in hunger; while some are known to become irritated easily, unlike normal behavior. Profuse sweating is also another documented symptom, apart from a racy heart beat rate.

Other serious side effects

In addition to the above, the patient is also likely to develop a diabetes related eye condition medically known as diabetic retinopathy. This condition also presents certain distinct symptoms that need to be monitored for timely treatment. This includes sudden and abnormal blurring of vision, apart from possible partial loss of vision. The individual may witness formation of dark spots in the eye, and here could also be an impact on ability to see clearly during the nights.

The patient may also end up with damage to the kidney as a result of the possible side effects of Ozempic. This is another serious affect that could have a very adverse impact on health. Symptoms that are indicative of the condition include a reduction in frequency and volume of passing urine. There could an unexplained and abnormal swelling the feet, around the ankles. The patient may appear confused for no apparent reason, while some may be tired without any physical demanding working.  Feelings of nausea may also overwhelm the patient as a result of the damage to the kidneys. The patient is also likely to develop gallbladder disease, due to the effects of the medication. Here again, there are clear symptoms that can be identified to seek timely medical attention. For instance, there could pain in the stomach, fever and vomiting that show formation of gallstones. There could also be inflammation in the gallbladder.

Possibility of allergic reactions

This medication comes with the possibility of triggering allergic reactions. While the reactions are not known to be serious or life threatening in nature, it cannot be entirely ruled out. Mild allergies are possible with the medication, and this can be treated symptomatically. For instance, the patient may experience outbreak of rashes on the skin, and there could be itching sensations accompanying the rashes. As outlined above, serious allergies are rare in occurrence; however, patients need t be informed about identifying possible symptoms of serious allergies.

Any swelling that is visible under the skin, around the eyelids, the lips, or the limb extremities are to be regarded as indicative of serious allergies. Similarly, swelling in the tongue, or the throat/mouth are also to be considered as a cause for concern. Any difficulty in breathing is to be treated with urgency, at a healthcare facility to prevent it from turning serious in nature. Most individuals tend to disregard allergic reactions as trivial. However, it is necessary to bear in mind always that allergic reactions have the ability to quickly develop into life threatening conditions, such as anaphylaxis.

Drug interactions of Ozempic

All medications come with the probability of interacting with other medications and formulations. This includes prescription medication, over the counter medicines, herbal supplements, and alternative medications. The interactions are mainly as a result of the conflicting mechanism of action or the properties of ingredients/compounds in either of the medications. Consequently, there could be increased potency in either of the medicines, or there could be reduction in efficacy of one or both the medicines, and in some instances, the side effects of either of the medications may aggravate.

Ozempic may interact with a category of medications known as beta blockers. It is therefore necessary to either temporarily stop either of the medications, depending on the importance or the condition. In some instances, it may be necessary to take both the medicines, with staggered intake timings or altered dosages. Patients on metoprolol, glaucoma eye drops and propranolol are to be on alert for drug interactions.

As the drug is intended to reduce blood sugar levels, it is necessary to periodically monitor blood glucose levels when on other medications that may have an impact on blood glucose. This is to be intimated to the treating specialist to ensure that suitable remedial measures are taken in the event of any change in the blood sugar levels.

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