HomeWeight LossWeight Loss TreatmentsSemaglutide



Semaglutide is used to improve control of blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and can help in the management of body weight in people who have diabetes and are overweight.

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is used by people with type 2 diabetes to control the level of sugar in their blood. Used alongside a healthy diet and exercise, it can also be used to manage body weight of people who have type 2 diabetes and are overweight. Semaglutide is used only when blood sugar levels cannot be controlled by diet and exercise alone. It can be used alone, when another medicine for diabetes called metformin cannot be used, or together with other anti-diabetic medicines.

A naturally-occurring hormone called insulin helps to regulate the blood sugar levels in healthy people. After a meal, the sugars produced during digestion enter the blood stream. Insulin is released from the pancreas to lower blood sugar levels, by moving the sugars from the blood into the cells for energy and to store the excess sugars in the liver. Another hormone called glucagon prevents the blood sugar levels from falling too low, by stimulating the liver cells to release sugar into the blood. Working together, insulin and glucagon ensure sugars are steadily released into and removed from the blood, thus maintaining blood sugar levels according to the body's needs. People with type 2 diabetes either do not produce sufficient insulin or cannot use insulin effectively to adequately control their blood sugar level. Over the long term, high blood sugar levels can lead to problems with their blood vessels, eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The term hyperglycaemia is used to refer to blood sugar levels that are too high, while hypoglycaemia is used to refer to blood sugar levels that are too low.

Semaglutide is an active compound classed as a glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue. It is not insulin. It works by lowering the blood sugar level when the blood sugar level is high. It does this by both stimulating the production of insulin and reducing the production of glucagon. It also lowers the production of insulin when blood sugar level is low. Additionally, Semaglutide delays stomach emptying after eating. This has the effect of reducing appetite, which can lead to a reduction in body weight.

How to use Semaglutide

This medicine comes in the form of 3, 7, and 14 mg tablets and as 0.25, 0.5 and 1 mg solutions for injection in a pre-filled pen. You will be prescribed the correct dose for you. Try to take Semaglutide at the same time each day or week. It is important that you do not stop this medicine as your blood sugar levels are likely to increase.

Typically, Semaglutide tablet are started at a dose of one 3 mg tablet daily for one month. The dose is then increased to 7 mg daily. If your blood sugar levels are not controlled, then your doctor may increase the dose again to 14 mg; always use the 14 mg tablet (and not two 7 mg tablets) if this is your dose. The tablet is taken daily on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before eating and drinking for the first time that day. Swallow it whole with a sip (up to 120 ml) of water. Store the tablets in their pack.

Semaglutide injections begin at a dose of 0.25 mg once a week for 4 weeks, after which the dose is increased to 0.5 mg once weekly. The dose may again be increased to 1 mg by the doctor if your blood sugar levels are still not controlled. You will give yourself the injections after being shown by a doctor or nurse. The injections are given once a week, usually into your thigh, upper arm, or around the waist, regardless of meal and drink times. Store the injections in the fridge.

Contact your doctor straight away if you take too much Semaglutide. If you forget to take a tablet, then take your usual dose the next day. If you forget an injection, then: if you are 1-5 days late, inject when you remember and then resume on your usual weekday; if you are 6 or more days late, then miss that dose and inject on your next usual weekday.

Who can use Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is for people who are 18 years of age and older. Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, may be pregnant, or planning pregnancy must discuss using Semaglutide with their doctor before starting treatment. The effects on a baby are unknown, and you will need to change to a different medicine.

This medicine should not be used if you have an allergy to Semaglutide or one or more ingredient in the tablet or in the injection solution, according to your prescription. It should also not be used if you have or develop diabetic ketoacidosis (where there is insufficient insulin to enable the breakdown of sugar), which can occur with high blood sugar levels. Inform your doctor if you have diabetic retinopathy or other eye problems.

Before using Semaglutide, let your doctor know if you are taking any medicines, including those not on prescription. This is especially important if you are (1) using other medicines for the treatment of diabetes, particularly insulin or a sulfonylurea, as it can result in hypoglycaemia; (2) insulin, as you will need to be advised on how to reduce your insulin dose and increase the monitoring of your blood sugar levels to avoid hyperglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis; (3) warfarin or another oral blood thinner, as you may need more frequent blood tests to monitor your blood clotting; and, (4) if using the tablets, levothyroxine for an underactive thyroid disease, as you may need to check your thyroid hormone levels.

Semaglutide Side Effects

Although rare, severe allergic reactions can occur, with symptoms including swelling of face, tongue and throat, difficulties swallowing or breathing, and rapid heartbeat. If any of these occur, contact a doctor immediately. Eye disease, occurring as a complication of diabetes, can temporarily worsen if the blood sugar level is brought under control too fast. Additionally, the blood sugar level may fall too low (hypoglycaemia); in this case, you will suddenly experience symptoms such as a cold sweat, headache, rapid heartbeat, hunger, nausea, weakness, shaking, visual disturbances, anxiety, and poor concentration. Your doctor will let you know how to treat such symptoms.

Problems with the stomach and gut are common. This includes symptoms of nausea and vomiting, reduced appetite, stomach pain, indigestion, heartburn, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation. While uncommon, severe stomach pain can indicate an inflamed pancreas. Other common side effects include weight loss, gall stones, dizziness, and tiredness. Some people have injection site reactions when using the injections, such as rash, itching, pain, and bruising.

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