Ozempic is a medication used for treating type 2 diabetes and is sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss. It works by helping your body make more insulin and slowing the rate of digestion. While this can result in improved blood sugar levels and weight loss, it can also cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, such as nausea.
Nausea is the most common side effect of Ozempic. Though it often lessens with time, it can be challenging to eat nutritious foods when you’re feeling sick, and feeling nauseous may start impacting your quality of life.
Continue reading to learn more about Ozempic side effects and how to get Ozempic nausea relief.
Key Takeaways for Ozempic Nausea Relief
- Ozempic is an injectable medication used to treat type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.
- Nausea is a very common side effect of Ozempic, especially when first starting treatment.
- Taking Ozempic at night, eating small frequent meals, and avoiding fatty/greasy foods can help minimize nausea.
- Ginger, mint, lemon, crackers, and anti-nausea medication may also provide nausea relief.
- If nausea remains severe, talk to your doctor about adjusting medication dosage or switching to an alternative GLP-1 drug.
How Does Ozempic Work?
Ozempic, or semaglutide, is a once-weekly injectable medication approved for treating elevated blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes.
It helps lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The medication is also prescribed off-label for weight loss in individuals without diabetes.
Ozempic is a GLP-1 receptor agonist medication. This means it activates the GLP-1 receptor in the body, which causes more insulin and less glucagon to be released. These are two hormones involved in blood sugar management.
The result of these changes is improved blood sugar levels and often weight loss.
Another way Ozempic works is by delaying gastric emptying or slowing down the rate your stomach contents move into your intestines. This causes slower digestion of the carbohydrates you eat, helping to minimize blood sugar spikes.
It also helps you feel full for longer after eating, which can support weight loss efforts.
Though Ozempic is not currently FDA-approved for treating people with obesity or elevated weight, studies suggest it may help with weight loss.
Another type of semaglutide medication called Wegovy is approved for weight loss. Wegovy has a similar mechanism of action to Ozempic, and also commonly causes nausea among other GI side effects.
Side Effects of Ozempic
Many people experience side effects of Ozempic, especially when initiating treatment or increasing the dose.
Most of the common side effects are gastrointestinal (GI) related as a result of slower stomach emptying on the medication.
In clinical trials, nausea was the most commonly reported side effect of taking Ozempic. About 20% of participants (or 1 in 5 people) reported having nausea. The next most common side effects were vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. But only 5% to 10% of people reported these side effects. The next most common set of side effects were constipation and gassiness.
In clinical trials, three to four percent of people stopped Ozempic treatment because of these side effects.
Below is a list of the most common side effects of Ozempic, meaning they occur in at least five percent of people taking the medication:
- Stomach pain.
- Low blood sugar (typically in patients also taking insulin).
Many people also report a lower appetite and early satiety (getting full before finishing a meal), one reason Ozempic is sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss.
However, in some cases, these effects, combined with GI symptoms, may make it challenging for people to eat enough to meet their nutritional needs while on the medication.
Less common side effects and complications occurring in less than five percent of people taking Ozempic include:
- Belching and gassiness.
- Acid reflux.
- Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining).
- Altered sense of taste.
If you experience any concerning side effects after starting Ozempic, talk to your doctor for further assessment and treatment.
Nausea and Ozempic
Nausea occurs as a result of the delayed gastric emptying caused by Ozempic. Food sitting in the stomach longer before digesting can contribute to many of the digestive side effects listed above.
With Ozempic, nausea does not always lead to vomiting. Less than 10% of people experienced vomiting during clinical trials. However, chronic nausea can be very disruptive to your quality of life and ability to eat normally.
When starting Ozempic, the doctors usually recommend slowly increasing the dose over the course of a few weeks. This helps your body get used to the medication and reduces the severity of gastrointestinal side effects.
Most people find that the longer they are on Ozempic, nausea becomes less noticeable.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend increasing your Ozempic dose to help maximize its effects. You’ll likely experience a resurgence of nausea and other side effects when your dose goes up.
How to Relieve Nausea with Ozempic
Ozempic can cause appetite suppression, taste changes, and reduced food cravings, which, combined with nausea and other common GI side effects, can make eating challenging. It can also make it difficult to complete your daily activities.
You can follow a few simple strategies to get Ozempic nausea relief.
For many people, the natural reaction when experiencing nausea is to avoid or delay eating until the nausea resolves. However, with Ozempic, you may experience frequent nausea that doesn’t go away.
This makes it important to do your best to continue eating normally throughout the day and learn to manage the nausea.
Nausea can worsen on an empty stomach, meaning the longer you wait to eat, the more severe your symptoms will become.
If your appetite is suppressed on Ozempic, you may not experience early signs of hunger, like stomach grumbling, making it easy to forget to eat.
If you have type 2 diabetes, going long periods without eating can increase your risk of experiencing low blood sugar, which is already increased while on Ozempic.
Try eating something shortly after waking in the morning, then aim to eat every three to four hours throughout the day. This will typically look like five to six small meals per day.
If your appetite is suppressed, you may need to set alarms or reminders to eat.
Though this may feel challenging, the more regularly you eat, the sooner you will get Ozempic nausea relief.
Modify Your Food Choices
You may need to choose different foods than you might normally eat in order to manage your nausea.
Dry, crunchy carbohydrates, like crackers and toast, can be better tolerated.
You may prefer bland foods with minimal seasonings and aromas.
Since Ozempic causes delayed gastric emptying, high-fiber or high-fat foods may exacerbate your symptoms because these foods can also slow digestion.
Try including soft, low-fiber foods on days your nausea is strong, like potatoes, fish, ground meat, tofu, or yogurt.
If your usual foods aren’t sounding good anymore due to appetite or taste changes, brainstorm a list of meal and snack ideas that do sound appetizing.
Try to include options that are new and exciting. Then you can cycle through the list to help you stay interested in food and prevent boredom.
Another thing you can try for Ozempic nausea relief is limiting fluid intake during meals. This can help minimize early satiety from filling up on liquids during your meal.
Try to sip on fluids throughout the day between meals. Ginger tea may be helpful for nausea.
It’s also best to avoid lying down flat after eating. Staying upright or sitting at an incline can make food digest easier and may help minimize acid reflux.
If nausea is so severe that you are struggling to function or eat enough on a daily basis, talk to your doctor about your options.
You may be able to take an anti-nausea medication or change the way you take Ozempic (i.e. dosage, timing, etc.).
If your nausea is accompanied by other symptoms, like severe abdominal pain, it may indicate a more serious side effect of Ozempic, such as pancreatitis. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience this symptom.
Other Tips for Managing Nausea While Taking Ozempic
In addition to the strategies mentioned above, here are some other tips that may help minimize nausea while taking Ozempic:
- Take Ozempic at night before bed to sleep through any nausea.
- Avoid greasy, fatty, spicy, or sugary foods which can aggravate GI symptoms.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks throughout the day.
- Choose bland foods like crackers, oatmeal, rice, applesauce, bananas, soup.
- Drink beverages between meals rather than with meals.
- Avoid mixing solid foods and liquids in the same meal. -Sit upright for at least 30 minutes after eating.
- Take slow, deep breaths if you start to feel nauseous.
- Distract yourself with music, reading, or other activities.
- Get fresh air and go for short, gentle walks.
- Use ginger, mint, lemon, or chamomile to soothe your stomach.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-nausea medication.
- Stay hydrated with small sips of fluid throughout the day.
- Communicate with your doctor about persistent or severe nausea.
When to See Your Doctor About Nausea with Ozempic
You should contact your healthcare provider if:
- The nausea does not improve over 2-4 weeks of taking Ozempic.
- You are unable to keep down food or liquids.
- You have abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue, fever, or other concerning symptoms along with the nausea.
- The nausea is interfering significantly with your daily activities and quality of life.
- You become dehydrated from frequent vomiting.
Seeking timely medical advice is important, as prolonged nausea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies. Your provider may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to an alternative medication that does not cause nausea. They can also prescribe anti-nausea medications and recommend proper symptom management.
Foods and Drinks to Help Minimize Nausea
While on Ozempic, choosing the right foods and beverages may help minimize nausea symptoms:
- Crackers – saltines, graham crackers
- Toast/bread – wheat, white, sourdough
- Cereal – rice, corn flakes, oatmeal
- Pasta – noodles, macaroni
- Potatoes – baked, mashed, fries
- Chicken – baked/grilled
- Fish – baked/grilled
- Eggs – scrambled, hard boiled
- Soup – broth-based
- Diluted fruit juices – apple, cranberry, grape
- Sports drinks – Gatorade, Powerade
- Clear soda – ginger ale, Sprite
- Tea – ginger, mint, chamomile
- Broths – chicken, vegetable, beef
Avoid spicy, greasy, and acidic foods as these can worsen nausea. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Cold foods and drinks may be tolerated better. Stay hydrated with frequent, small sips of fluids.
Alternative Medications if Ozempic Nausea is Severe
If nausea from Ozempic becomes intolerable, your doctor may recommend switching to an alternative GLP-1 receptor agonist such as:
These medications work similarly to Ozempic but may cause less nausea for some people. However, nausea remains a possibility with any GLP-1 receptor agonist.
Lifestyle changes, home remedies, prescription anti-nausea medications, and proper nausea management will still be important. Work with your healthcare provider to find the best medication and strategy to manage blood sugar and weight while minimizing side effects.
The Bottom Line
Nausea is a very common side effect when first starting and ramping up doses of Ozempic. Proper nutrition and nausea management is key to feeling your best while on this medication.
Eating small, frequent meals and making diet modifications can significantly help minimize nausea symptoms. Other remedies like ginger, lemon, mint, crackers, and anti-nausea medications may also provide relief.
If nausea remains persistent and unrelieved, speak to your doctor about potential medication adjustments or alternatives. With some patience and trial and error, most people find an optimal regimen to manage nausea from Ozempic.
Q: Why does Ozempic cause nausea?
A: Ozempic causes nausea due to its effects of slowing gastric emptying. Food remains in the stomach longer, leading to gastrointestinal issues like nausea, reflux, and stomach discomfort.
Q: How long does Ozempic nausea last?
A: For most people, nausea from Ozempic improves over the first 2-4 weeks as the body adjusts to the medication. However, nausea may return with any dosage increases.
Q: What is the best time to take Ozempic to avoid nausea?
A: Taking Ozempic at bedtime may allow you to sleep through the worst nausea. Taking it in the morning tends to cause nausea throughout the day.
Q: What foods should you avoid when taking Ozempic?
A: Avoid greasy, fatty, spicy, and sugary foods which can make nausea worse. Eat small, bland, mild meals.
Q: Can you take anti-nausea medication with Ozempic?
A: Yes, over-the-counter or prescription anti-nausea medication may help relieve nausea from Ozempic. Speak to your doctor about options.