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Last updated: Jul 11, 2022
4 min read

What happens if you take too much Ozempic?

 

chimene richa

Reviewed by Chimene Richa, MD

Written by Amy Isler

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.

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your healthcare provider may prescribe Ozempic (semaglutide) to help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent cardiovascular complications (like heart attack and stroke). While Ozempic is self-administered using a prefilled injectable pen, it is possible to accidentally give yourself a higher dose than prescribed.

So what happens if you take too much Ozempic? Keep reading to find out (spoiler: it can severely lower your blood sugar). This article will also explain the purpose of Ozempic, dosage information, and possible side effects and complications.

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What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is an injectable medication used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is not insulin. It’s part of a class of drugs called glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists that stimulate the pancreas to release insulin after eating, helping to prevent high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) (Collins, 2022).

The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) approves Ozempic for type 2 diabetes to help (FDA, 2020):

  • Significantly lower hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in people with type 2 diabetes, along with diet and exercise
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular events (like heart disease, heart attack, and stroke) in adults with type 2 diabetes who also have pre-existing cardiovascular disease

Other type 2 diabetes medications on the market similar to Ozempic include Trulicity (dulaglutide) and Victoza (liraglutide). They are also GLP-1 receptor antagonists and are FDA approved to lower blood sugar and prevent cardiovascular events. The only significant difference is how often they are administered (Collins, 2022):

  • Ozempic and Trulicity are weekly injections.
  • Victoza is a daily injection.

Ozempic is commonly used with metformin, another staple type 2 diabetes medication. Studies suggest that combining multiple medications may be more effective for managing type 2 diabetes than using one at a time (Bennett, 2011).

Ozempic for weight management

Although the FDA hasn’t approved it for weight management, Ozempic may also help with weight loss. A recent study found that 86% of people who took Ozempic had at least a 5% reduction in total body weight (Wilding, 2021). Some providers may prescribe it off-label for this purpose. 

Ozempic dosage 

If prescribed Ozempic, you will give yourself a weekly subcutaneous injection (under the skin of the upper arm, thigh, or stomach) using a prefilled Ozempic pen. 

Healthcare providers start you on the smallest dose (0.25 mg) and slowly increase the dose until optimal blood sugar control is reached. The maximum dose of Ozempic is 2 mg (Pharmacy Times, 2022).

While everyone is different and dosing will be customized to your needs, the medication guide explains that dosing typically follows this schedule (FDA, 2020):

Injecting Ozempic on the same day and time each week is recommended to avoid missing a dose. If you do miss a dose, take it as soon as possible within five days of the missed dose. Skip the dose if more than five days have passed and resume with your next dose (FDA, 2020). 

New, unopened Ozempic pens need to be refrigerated. After your first use, it can be stored at room temperature (FDA, 2020).

What happens if you take too much Ozempic? 

Ozempic is a long-acting medication that can cause severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if not taken exactly as prescribed. If you do take more than your prescribed dose, call your provider immediately and monitor for signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, which include (ADA, n.d.)

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • General weakness
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Hunger 
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Confusion

The best way to know if your blood sugar is low is to check it using a glucometer.

The gold standard for treating hypoglycemia is the “15-15 rule,” which includes consuming 15 grams of carbohydrates and waiting 15 minutes to see if blood sugar increases. If it does not improve, repeat the process by consuming another 15 grams of carbs. Suggested carbohydrates include (ADA, n.d.): 

  • 4 ounces of juice or regular soda (not diet)
  • Hard candies or jelly beans
  • Glucose tablets
  • Gel tubes

Call 911 If you have severe symptoms that are not improving with carbs. 

Ozempic side effects

The most common side effects of Ozempic are mild and can be treated with over-the-counter symptom relievers. Common side effects of Ozempic include (FDA, 2020):

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation 

Ozempic does come with a boxed warning issued by the FDA, meaning it has an increased risk of causing some serious side effects, including thyroid tumors and medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). Other potential serious side effects include (FDA, 2020):

  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetic retinopathy (blood vessel damage in the eyes)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Acute kidney disease
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Serious allergic reaction (shortness of breath)

Ozempic should not be used by people with a history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) (including a family history of these issues). It should also not be used by people who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should seek medical advice from a healthcare professional before breastfeeding while using Ozempic (FDA, 2020).

When taking Ozempic with other diabetes medications (insulin and sulfonylurea), people can experience dangerously low blood sugar. It’s important to inform your healthcare provider of any other medications or dietary supplements you are taking, as these can affect how Ozempic works in the body (FDA, 2020).

Takeaways

Ozempic is a long-term medication used to control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. It is a once-weekly injection using a prefilled Ozempic pen. If you take too much Ozempic, you could develop severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). 

In the event of an overdose, call your healthcare provider right away and monitor for signs and symptoms of low blood sugar using a glucometer. Call 911 if you have severe symptoms that are not improving with consuming carbohydrates.

References

  1. American Diabetes Association (ADA). (n.d.). Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/hypoglycemia
  2. Bennett, W. L., Maruthur, N. M., Singh, S., et al. (2011). Comparative effectiveness and safety of medications for type 2 diabetes: an update including new drugs and 2-drug combinations. Annals of Internal Medicine, 154(9), 602–613. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-154-9-201105030-00336. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21403054/
  3. Collins, L. & Costello, R. A. (2022). Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. StatPearls. Retrieved on July 11, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551568/
  4. Pharmacy Times. (2022). FDA approves 2.0 mg dose of semaglutide injection for type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from
    https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/fda-approves-2-0-mg-dose-of-semaglutide-injection-for-type-2-diabetes
  5. United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2020). Highlights of Prescribing Information: Ozempic. Retrieved on July 11, 2022 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2020/209637s003lbl.pdf
  6. Wilding, J., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., et al. (2021). Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2032183. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33567185/