Does Ozempic cause constipation?

Does Ozempic cause constipation? Learn about this common side effect, symptoms, duration, severity, risk factors, and management strategies
Simon Lovick
min read
Checked by

Quick summary

Constipation is a common concern for people using Ozempic for diabetes management. With about 1 in 10 users reporting this troublesome side effect, it's crucial to understand why it happens and how to find relief. 

This article will dive into the details around Ozempic and constipation - from symptoms and risk factors to expert-recommended management strategies. We'll also cover other important side effects to be aware of and what to expect if you need to consult your healthcare provider. 

What is Ozempic and How Does It Work?

Ozempic is an injectable prescription medication used to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. Its active ingredient is semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that helps the body produce more insulin when needed.

Prevalence and Commonality of Ozempic Side Effects

Ozempic can cause various side effects, some more common than others. Understanding the likelihood of potential side effects can help patients make informed decisions about using this medication.

Statistical Overview of Ozempic Side Effects

According to clinical trial data, around half of patients taking Ozempic experience some side effects. The most common side effects occur in over 5% of users. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, indigestion, and constipation.

Specifically for constipation, studies show around 7-10% of Ozempic patients report this side effect. While not the most prevalent side effect statistically, constipation remains a notable potential adverse reaction.

Side Effects Most Commonly Reported

The most commonly reported side effects of Ozempic are gastrointestinal in nature. Nausea is the leading side effect, occurring in up to 20% of patients in clinical trials. Vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and decreased appetite follow as other top side effects.

Constipation ranks behind these other gastrointestinal issues in terms of frequency. However, around 1 in 10 patients still experience constipation on Ozempic, making it a relatively common occurrence.

Importance of Discussing Side Effects with Healthcare Providers

When considering Ozempic, it is important to discuss potential side effects thoroughly with your healthcare provider. Understanding the likelihood of constipation and other side effects can help determine if Ozempic is the right medication for your diabetes management.

Reporting any side effects after starting Ozempic enables your provider to suggest ways to manage them, such as diet changes or over-the-counter medications. Weighing the benefits and potential risks is key to making an informed decision about using Ozempic.

In-Depth Look at Ozempic and Constipation

Constipation is a commonly reported side effect of the diabetes medication Ozempic. Understanding its nuances is key to proper management.

Symptoms and Severity of Constipation

The constipation symptoms experienced on Ozempic can vary greatly in severity from person to person. Mild cases may involve only occasional hard, dry stools, some straining during bowel movements, inability to fully empty bowels, or a subjective feeling of reduced number of bowel movements. 

More significant bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain may accompany mild cases as well. Patients find these symptoms annoying but generally manageable.

More concerning cases can involve profound straining to pass very hard, pellet-like stools. This excessive straining can lead to anal fissures and painful haemorrhoids. Severely hard stools passing through the anus can also cause tearing of the anal lining, resulting in bleeding. 

Prolonged constipation may also lead to faecal impaction in some patients, where rock-hard stool obstructs the rectum and will not pass. This requires medical intervention.

Some individuals experience pronounced abdominal bloating and distension as stool backs up in the colon. This distension can be quite uncomfortable, even painful at times. Appetite loss and waves of nausea often accompany the bloating. 

Understandably, these disruptive symptoms can significantly diminish one's quality of life. Rarely, profound bloating may indicate complete intestinal obstruction, which is a medical emergency.

Overall, the severity of constipation side effects with Ozempic varies substantially among patients. While moderately bothersome for some, it can become debilitating and intolerable for others. Frequent monitoring and proactive management are essential.

Duration of Constipation When Using Ozempic

For many Ozempic users, constipation manifests as a short-term side effect lasting days to weeks as their body adjusts to the medication. Making simple dietary modifications like increasing fibre and fluid intake is often adequate to relieve these transient cases. 

However, a subset of patients experience constipation persisting for months after initiating Ozempic. It remains a chronic, long-lasting issue requiring more intensive management strategies.

Some people report intermittent constipation that flares up periodically while using Ozempic over the long-term. Episodes seem to correlate in some cases with factors like changes in diet, increased stress levels, travel disrupting normal routine, or decreased physical activity. Patients should track potential triggers of intermittent constipation flares while using Ozempic.

It is difficult to predict at the outset whether someone will experience short-term or chronic constipation with Ozempic. However, a patient's baseline risk factors provide clues. Working closely with one's healthcare provider helps determine likely duration based on individual characteristics. 

This facilitates appropriate early management. Intolerable chronic constipation may necessitate transitioning to an alternative diabetes medication less prone to causing this disruptive

Wegovy is here! Start your free assessment

Complete the assessment and purchase your plan

Mounjaro is here! Start your free assessment

Complete the assessment and purchase your plan

Risk Factors for Developing Constipation on Ozempic

A number of factors can increase an individual's risk of experiencing constipation when taking Ozempic:

  • Older age - Intestinal motility tends to decline naturally with age, likely exacerbated by taking Ozempic.
  • History of chronic constipation or other GI issues - Indicates an underlying predisposition to constipation.
  • Low fibre diets - Inadequate fibre intake makes constipation more likely.
  • Dehydration or inadequate fluid intake - Not drinking enough worsens constipation.
  • Sedentary lifestyle and limited physical activity - Lack of movement slows intestinal motility.
  • Spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, or other neuromuscular disorders - These conditions impair mobility and intestinal function.
  • Use of other constipating medications - Their effects are compounded by Ozempic's constipating tendencies. Examples include antidepressants, opioids, and calcium/iron supplements.

Evaluating patient-specific risk factors guides appropriate treatment decisions and helps set realistic expectations around potential constipation issues. Patients requiring Ozempic should be made aware of increased risks that may need mitigation.

Managing Constipation Caused by Ozempic

A multi-pronged strategy will generally be required to properly manage constipation resulting from Ozempic use:

Dietary adjustments play a major role. Increasing fiber intake, eating prunes or figs, staying well hydrated, limiting dairy and red meat, and drinking warm liquids like coffee or tea can help stimulate bowel movements. OTC medications like stool softeners, laxatives, probiotics or psyllium supplements relax stools. For severe chronic cases, prescription therapies like lactulose, lubiprostone or linaclotide may be warranted.

Being physically active with light walking, yoga, Pilates or similar activities can stimulate contractile intestinal motions. Abdominal massage in gentle circular motions may provide some relief as well. Establishing a routine bathroom time 20-30 minutes after meals can promote regularity. Stress management through mindfulness, meditation and relaxation is also beneficial for reducing stress-related gut changes.

Most importantly, patients should seek medical advice if lifestyle adjustments do not resolve constipation. Healthcare providers can suggest medication timing changes, doses, additional therapies or an alternative diabetes drug if needed. Relieving constipation is key for adherence and quality of life when taking Ozempic.

When to Consult a Healthcare Provider

It's important to discuss any persistent or severe side effects from Ozempic with your healthcare provider.

Signs That You Should Consult a Healthcare Provider

Contact your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Chronic constipation not relieved by lifestyle changes
  • Severe abdominal pain or bloating
  • Rectal bleeding from constipation
  • Persistent nausea/vomiting
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Severe diarrhoea

Prompt medical attention is needed for alarming symptoms like bloody stools, vomiting, or dehydration.


Related articles