What is Ozempic and how does it help treat type 2 diabetes?

Ozempic is a prescription medication that is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It can be used as a monotherapy (on its own) or combined with other diabetes medications. Ozempic belongs to the glucagon-like peptide-1 agonist class of medications (GLP-1).

Ozempic is used by people with type 2 diabetes to lower blood glucose levels. It can also help lower the risks of heart and kidney disorders.

How does Ozempic work?

Ozempic increases the amount of insulin in your body after a meal, which helps your body metabolize the sugar, preventing high blood sugar levels. It also slows down the digestion process, which results in you feeling full, faster and longer. This helps curb your appetite, which can be extremely helpful for weight management.

Uses and precautions while taking Ozempic

Ozempic is meant to be taken once a week without regard to meals. It should always be taken on the same day of the week and at the same time.

Follow the directions on your prescription label or ask your physician or pharmacist for instructions. The medication should be taken on an ongoing basis, even if you feel well. If you want to stop taking Ozempic, it’s important you consult your physician before doing so.

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If you have a family history or personal history of thyroid cancer, diabetic retinopathy, pancreatitis, stomach problems, intestinal problems, or kidney problems, inform your physician before you begin taking Ozempic.

Avoid driving, operating heavy machinery or any other activity that requires alertness while taking Ozempic until you are confident about how the drug affects you. When Ozempic is used together with insulin or sulfonylurea-type medication (e.g., gliclazide) it can cause low blood sugar.

What foods should I avoid while taking Ozempic?

There are no specific foods you need to avoid with Ozempic. When you first start taking the drug, nausea can be a common side effect, but it’s nothing to worry about. If you are experiencing an upset stomach, having smaller, lighter meals may help ease your discomfort. 

You may also find that your appetite is smaller when taking Ozempic. Although this is not the intended effect of the drug, it’s completely normal, and it can even help with weight management.

Remember that to properly treat diabetes with Ozempic, you still need a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Let’s go over some Ozempic FAQs

Should I have food before taking Ozempic?

Ozempic can be taken with or without food. When and how you take your meals does not affect how Ozempic works.

Can I take vitamins with Ozempic?

You should inform your physician or pharmacist before taking any vitamins or nutritional supplements, as they may interact with Ozempic and change the absorption of the medication.

Can I take metformin and Ozempic together?

Yes, metformin and Ozempic can be taken together safely. Combining the two medications may provide better blood sugar control than using either one on its own.

What happens if Ozempic gets hot?

When you receive your Ozempic supply from the pharmacy, keep it in the refrigerator between 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F). Do not store it in the freezer. Always keep Ozempic away from direct sunlight and any heat sources. Ozempic pens can be kept at room temperature between 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F) or stored in the fridge between uses. Don’t use Ozempic if it has been exposed to heat above 30°C (for example, if you left it in a hot car for several hours) as it may no longer be effective.

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Throw out your Ozempic if it shows changes in color, precipitation, or clarity, as this may indicate a loss of potency.

What is the best time of day to take Ozempic?

Ozempic injections should be taken once a week, at any time of the day, with or without food. Build it into your weekly routine (for example, every Sunday afternoon after family brunch) so you don’t miss a dose.

Does Ozempic curb your appetite?

Ozempic can lead to a decreased appetite, which in turn can lead to weight loss. Ozempic slows down the digestive process, so anything you consume will stay in your stomach for a longer period, which makes you feel full for a longer period of time.

In rare cases, Ozempic may be prescribed by a physician for weight loss as off-label use.

Can I take supplements or herbal preparations while on Ozempic?

There is no known interaction between Ozempic and supplements or herbal preparations. However, as with any medication, it is always best to speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements while taking Ozempic.

Do I have to change my eating habits while on Ozempic?

Ozempic will work best if combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Diabetes Canada has a handy website with healthy tips and recipes. 

Can Ozempic cause weight loss?

Yes, Ozempic can cause weight loss. In clinical studies, Ozempic helped people with diabetes lose an average of 1kg – 1.5kg after 6 – 12 months.

Metformin vs Ozempic: What’s the difference?

Both metformin and Ozempic are effective medications for lowering blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes. Whether you use one or both depends on many factors like how long you’ve had diabetes, other health conditions, family history, and other medications you’re taking. Your doctor can help you work through which diabetes treatment is best for you. 

Generally, metformin will be recommended if you are newly diagnosed with diabetes. It is effective, safe, has been used for decades, and is relatively inexpensive. However, some people may not be able to take metformin due to intolerance or kidney/liver problems. 

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Ozempic can be used in place of metformin if you cannot tolerate metformin. Ozempic also has the added benefit of promoting weight loss and lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Finally, as your diabetes progresses, your doctor may prescribe Ozempic and metformin together to better control your blood sugar levels. Metformin and Ozempic work in different ways; by targeting different mechanisms of action, they can treat diabetes more effectively.

Metformin can be cheaper than Ozempic

Metformin is available as a generic medication and is usually a lot less expensive than Ozempic.

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