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Last updated: May 05, 2021
3 min read

Victoza: side effects, uses, and warnings

Victoza improves blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Common side effects of Victoza include decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, indigestion, and constipation.

yael coopermannopell wong

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD

Written by Nopell Wong

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Victoza is a medication that improves blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

It comes as an injection pen that users self-administer in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm (FDA, 2019). Victoza is the brand name of a generic drug called liraglutide, and is typically prescribed to those with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart problems (Victoza, n.d.). 

Victoza is safe and generally well-tolerated but does carry risks for side effects. Here’s more on common side effects, warnings, and safety information for Victoza.

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Common Victoza side effects

The most common side effects of Victoza are mild and usually not cause for concern. Here are some of the adverse reactions you may experience using this drug (PDR, n.d.):

  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation

Some individuals have also experienced weight loss while on Victoza. Liraglutide is also available under the brand name Saxenda, which is FDA-approved for weight loss if combined with a reduced-calorie diet in people with obesity (Victoza, n.d.).

Severe reactions and warnings

Victoza may cause adverse reactions that require immediate medical attention. 

If you experience any of the symptoms below, stop using Victoza immediately and get in touch with a healthcare provider. 

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas): Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain that does not subside or spreads to your back. 
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): There are many indicators of hypoglycemia. Common signs of low blood sugar are confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, sweating, slurred speech, shakiness, rapid heartbeat, irritability, and mood changes. If left untreated, low blood sugar can cause loss of consciousness or even death.
  • Gallbladder problems: Gallbladder issues can range from fever to nausea to the whites of your eyes turning yellow. Pain in the right or middle upper abdominal area can also signal gallbladder problems.
  • Kidney issues: Early symptoms may be mild but can quickly escalate to kidney failure if left untreated. Kidney problems you may experience while on Victoza include drowsiness, confusion, shortness of breath, nausea, less frequent urination, and swelling of the feet or lower legs. 
  • Allergic reactions: Victoza poses a risk for severe allergic reactions. Such events include breathing problems, severe rash, fainting, fast heartbeat, and swelling of the face, mouth, or throat. 

Who should use caution or avoid taking Victoza?

Victoza is safe for most people, but certain medical conditions can put you at a higher chance of adverse effects.

In animal experiments, it’s been shown that Victoza may increase the risk of thyroid tumors. It’s unknown whether this can happen in humans, but the medication still comes with a thyroid cancer warning risk.

If you’ve ever had thyroid cancer, a family history of thyroid cancer, or an endocrine tumor syndrome (which can increase the risk of medullary thyroid cancer), consult with a healthcare provider before taking this drug (FDA, 2019). 

Those with a history of allergic reactions to Victoza or similar medications may need to find an alternative. If you experience any severe symptoms, stop using the medication immediately (PDR, n.d.). 

If you’re also using insulin, be sure not to inject it in the same area as your Victoza pen. Don’t share your pen with anybody else—even if you’ve replaced the needle. Doing so could put you or others at high risk of a serious infection (FDA, 2019).

Always tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking before starting treatment with Victoza. 

References

  1. Prescribers’ Digital Reference (PDR). (n.d.). Liraglutide – Drug Summary. Retrieved March 2, 2021 from https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Victoza-liraglutide-459
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2019). Victoza (liraglutide) injection. Retrieved March 1, 2021 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/022341s031lbl.pdf
  3. Victoza. (n.d.). Victoza FAQ. Retrieved March 2, 2021 from https://www.victoza.com/faq/About-Victoza.html