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Can headaches be a side effect of Wegovy?

It's important to be aware of any potential effects of a medication before you start taking it.

Can Headaches Be a Side Effect of Wegovy? | Juniper

From over-the-counter painkillers to weight loss medicine or chronic disease treatment — with any type of medication, there is a chance of experiencing some side effects.

While minor side effects can often go away within a few weeks, more severe side effects or serious allergic reactions can also be very dangerous — and even life-threatening.

This is why it is important to be aware of any potential effects of a medication before you start taking it so that you can make an informed decision and do what is best for your health.

In this article, we will focus on Wegovy, whether this medication can lead to headaches and some of the ways you might be able to treat them.

Here's what you need to know.

How does Wegovy work for weight loss?

Firstly, whether you are already on Wegovy treatment, are taking another weight loss medication, or are considering it in future, it is important to have an understanding of how it works.

Wegovy is a semaglutide injection, which is a GLP-1 medication and can only be accessed with a prescription from a healthcare provider [1].

GLP-1 stands for glucogen-like peptide 1, and these medications mimic the actions of the hormone, which is naturally released by your stomach when you eat [2].

Wegovy is approved by the NHS for weight management of eligible patients.

People are typically eligible if they have at least one weight-related comorbidity, such as high blood pressure cardiovascular disease, and a high body mass index (BMI) [3].

When used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity, Wegovy can lead to long-term weight loss.

According to the company's website, it can also help improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and other weight-related medical conditions [1].

The medication works by targeting areas of your brain that are involved in regulating your appetite [4].

This increases your feelings of satiety, decreases feelings of hunger, and increases your preference for low-fat foods rather than foods high in saturated fat.

GLP-1 medications also release insulin and help regulate blood sugar levels, and some types are used to treat diabetes.

If you are pursuing weight loss and think you might be a suitable candidate for GLP-1 medication, a service such as Juniper's Weight Reset Programme might be a good starting point.

The programme offers a simple and convenient solution to weight loss including online consults, home delivery, and ongoing support at your fingertips.

The medication is available in a variety of strengths to suit your individual circumstances, and patients have experienced 15% average weight loss in 12 months*.

Best of all, it is not just about rapid weight loss — the programme will set you up with the tools you need to improve your lifestyle and achieve lasting results.

Can Wegovy cause headaches?

Wegovy, and other medications with semaglutide, do appear to lead to an increased risk of headaches, and this is stated on the medication's boxed warning [5].

Not everybody will experience this side effect, and it could also be impacted by other factors such as [6]:

If you're taking multiple types of medication there is also a chance that drug interactions could lead to headaches or other side effects.

People who are already prone to getting headaches, and have previously experienced migraines, menstrual headaches, sleep apnoea or sinus headaches, might have an increased risk of headaches as a side effect when taking Wegovy.

The ingredient of semaglutide itself does not appear to directly cause headaches, but there does appear to be a connection [7].

There are several reasons why headaches seem to be one of the common side effects among people taking the medication.

For example, low blood sugar and hypoglycaemia can lead to headaches, particularly among people with type 2 diabetes [8].

When you start the medication, you will likely embark on a reduced-calorie diet and begin doing more physical activity. You also might be experiencing rapid weight loss, which could lead to low blood sugar as your body adjusts to its new routine.

Similarly, if you are experiencing other common side effects of Wegovy including nausea and vomiting, you may become dehydrated, which can contribute to headaches [9].

So while the medication itself might not necessarily give you a headache, it can indirectly lead to one through the other changes it brings on in your body.

How to treat Wegovy headaches

If you develop a Wegovy headache after starting the medication, there are several options for treatment [6]. In fact, they can mostly be treated in the same way as other types of headaches.

For mild symptoms, simple things like getting fresh air and drinking water can help.

Laying down in a dark, quiet room and sleeping can also be beneficial, along with stretching your neck muscles and placing a cold or warm cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck.

Over-the-counter pain relief such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin can also relieve headaches [6].

Of course, when taking any medication, make sure to follow the recommended dosage amounts.

If you are in severe pain or experiencing any kind of medical emergency, contact a healthcare provider.

How long can Wegovy headaches last?

Similar to other headaches, the length of time Wegovy headaches last can vary depending on exact circumstances and severity [10].

They might clear up after a couple of hours, or they might stick around for a couple of days.

If you are doing the right things for treatment — such as getting fresh air, resting, drinking water, and staying out of loud or noisy spaces — your headache is likely to subside faster [11].

The good news is, if you find yourself experiencing any of the common side effects of Wegovy, they typically last for a relatively short amount of time (a few weeks).

As your body gets used to the medication and you adjust to your new routine, you will hopefully be able to control factors like your hydration levels, sleep and blood sugar, and hopefully experience headaches less frequently.

If you are experiencing severe pain or are getting regular migraines, you should speak to your healthcare provider to make sure there are no underlying issues to be concerned about.

What other side effects can Wegovy cause?

There have been both mild and serious side effects identified in clinical trials and patients' experiences.

Some of the commonly reported side effects of Wegovy treatment are feelings of an upset stomach, including [4]:

According to the company's website, there can also be serious side effects of Wegovy [1].

The most serious warning is around the risk of thyroid issues, including developing tumours in the thyroid gland and thyroid cancer.

If you notice a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, difficulty breathing or swallowing, you should seek medical attention.

Anybody who has a history of a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma or the endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 should not take Wegovy.

Similarly, if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction to the active ingredient of semaglutide, or any of the other ingredients, you should avoid Wegovy treatment and instead consider other medications.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat, dizziness and an elevated heart rate.

Other serious side effects can include gallbladder problems, kidney problems or kidney failure.

If your healthcare provider is going to prescribe Wegovy injections to you, you should let them know if you have ever had pancreas or kidney problems, diabetes, suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues, are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

You should also tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding before they prescribe Wegovy to you, as it is not known whether the medication passes into breast milk.

Tips for managing common side effects of Wegovy

As we've mentioned, the milder side effects of Wegovy, such as an upset stomach, will generally subside before too long [12].

While you are experiencing nausea and vomiting, it is generally recommended to opt for foods that are bland and low in fat as these are easier on the digestive system.

It is also important to stay hydrated to give your body the best chance of recovery.

If mild side effects persist, your healthcare provider might opt to adjust your dose or adjust other medications you are on.

If you are concerned about life-threatening or serious side effects of Wegovy (such as the increased risk of thyroid disease, acute pancreatitis, gallbladder problems or severe abdominal pain), you should speak to your doctor about your individual circumstances.

*15% weight loss is the average weight reduction observed in research studies on the efficacy of GLP-1 receptor agonists. Actual weight loss outcomes may vary among individuals.

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