Yep – let’s get over the awkwardness quickly. We’re talking about poop today and the chances of poop happening unexpectedly when you take Ozempic. Naturally, this possibility has garnered much media attention – Ozempic and other semaglutide drugs have been very high-profile lately thanks to their ability to help many people with their blood sugar A1C and because it enables many people to lose weight. And some publications are even reporting Ozempic might be able to help people with addiction. These are all great – but the side effects of this drug are real. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of what Ozempic is, what it’s for, what its side effects are, why people might be having loss of bowel control when they’re on Ozempic, why this sounds so familiar, and how you can prevent this from happening to you.
Ozempic, one of a group of injectable drugs known as semaglutide, makes you feel full. Ozempic is recommended for those with type 2 diabetes and those who want to lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Though this is its only official use, many people are using the drug to lose weight.
In addition to increasing the feeling of fullness, Semaglutide aids in controlling type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin production by the pancreas. Insulin is required to transport glucose (or blood sugar) into cells for energy production.
Semaglutide is effective because it acts like the hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) our bodies make in response to sensing food. The glucagon-like peptide-1 signaling system helps your body understand when you’ve eaten and get ready to put that food’s nutrients and calories to use.
Stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting are just some of the negative effects that have been reported. According to Ozempic.com, the most serious side
effects that the drug can cause are thyroid tumors, including cancer. With this side
effect, the symptoms to look out for are neck lumps or swelling, trouble breathing,
swallowing, or being hoarse. If you have any of these symptoms while taking Ozempic, please contact your doctor immediately.
In the light of possible thyroid tumors, unexpected or uncontrolled bowel movements seem relatively minor. Regardless, Ozempic patients report symptoms that keep them from living their lives as desired. One endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic told CBS News that about 10 percent of patients stop taking Ozempic because the symptoms – nausea, vomiting, foul gas, and diarrhea – don’t stop with time.
Even Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, described his burps while on Ozempic as “next-level.”
However, some patients may keep taking the drug because its advantages – weight loss and blood-sugar control – outweigh the setbacks of needing to stay near a bathroom.
We want to be clear that this does not happen to everyone who takes Ozempic. But for the unlucky few, surprise diarrhea is a side effect the drug manufacturers warn against.
According to the medical material for Ozempic, diarrhea is the drug’s second most common adverse effect, behind only nausea. In the clinical experiment conducted by Wegovy, another semaglutide drug, thirty percent of patients reported having gastrointestinal issues they could not control.
Reddit user insufficient_funds told their story of unpleasant stomach issues when increasing their Ozempic dose in the subreddit “Lose It.”
When on the initial dose prescribed by their doctor, they felt full and lost a lot of weight. After several months, the weight loss slowed, and their doctor increased the dose. That’s when the gastrointestinal issues began.
Insufficient_funds said they had bouts of foul gas, projectile vomiting, and more.
“It also gave me horrible, uncontrollable diarrhea that met the clinical definition of ‘severe,’” They wrote. “There were a few days where I couldn’t leave the toilet for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. There was one night I fell asleep on the toilet, because I was so tired from getting up to RUN to the toilet to poo.”
The reddit user said they wanted to share their experience and hoped others didn’t have the same side effects.
User lostinthewoods responded in the thread, sharing quite a different experience. They had a long history of “nasty gastrointestinal issues” but wanted to try Ozempic for their Type 2 diabetes.
“I started Ozempic 6 weeks ago, and just took my 7th shot this morning,” they replied. “My diarrhea is gone. In fact, I’m mildly constipated but Metamucil helps. I am not throwing up quite as much. I don’t have bloating, I don’t struggle with overeating or eating stuff that isn’t healthy.”
Wait a minute… this sounds familiar.
Are you old enough to remember the olestra craze in the late 1990s? If not, we’ll walk you through it. It has similarities and differences to the Ozempic situation.
Procter and Gamble developed a chemical that operated like fat but was not absorbed by the body. The molecule was patented in 1971. Its generic name was olestra, while the brand name was Olean.
They seemed to have found the holy grail of fullness in this “fake” fat made from cottonseed and soybean oils, contributing to taste without adding calories, fat, or cholesterol.
Olestra performed well but not flawlessly. Early P&G publications indicated “leakage” issues in the stool of certain persons who ate the fat-free meals due to the indigestibility of the fat-like molecule. P&G spent much time researching “anti-leakage agents,” such as hydrogenated oils that would harden the fat-like substance and prevent the alarming issue.
In addition, several patients said they had stomach pain. The ability of olestra to absorb vitamins in the food, which the body would ordinarily absorb, caused concern for the Food and Drug Administration. The absorption of these lipids by the body was thwarted by olestra. Until olestra was offered as a candidate for approval, no macro ingredient, as the regulatory literature called it, had been brought to the FDA for assessment. Therefore the FDA had to take time to develop new research and testing procedures.
Because of these issues, olestra wasn’t given the green light until 1996, and even then, conditions were attached to the approval. Only the savory snacks market, where enough studies existed, was a viable market for this product. These snacks were required to include a label stating that they may cause stomach distress. The snacks also needed to have additional vitamins added to them because of the way Olestra absorbed vitamins.
The molecule began to be used in snacks like potato chips, causing considerable excitement. Some people took the “fat-free” label to mean they could eat unlimited amounts of these chips. Unfortunately for them, the drawback of eating too many Olean-infused potato chips was uncontrollable anal leakage.
According to a Mental Floss article, over 16,000 customers complained to the Food and Drug Administration and Procter & Gamble that olestra-containing products made them feel bloated and caused their underwear discoloration.
Video testimonies from those who suffered from olestra’s side effects were shown at a conference held by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, which had previously condemned Procter & Gamble for overselling the chemical. One person likened the discomfort of digesting Olean to her contractions at the start of childbirth.
History isn’t exactly repeating itself, since Olean – still featured in some low-fat chips, by the way – is a molecule rather than a drug, but one must admit there are some similarities. Both situations feature scientific attempts to prevent the body from gaining weight with familiarly unpleasant side effects. If you want to prevent staining your drawers with oily residue, you have to avoid Olean products. However, what can you do if you take Ozempic for health reasons and it’s causing uncontrollable diarrhea?
The Ozempic website has helpful suggestions for avoiding stomach upset and more serious side effects, most of which concern your diet. The tips include the following:
However, if you have experienced the common side effects of Ozempic and find that you can’t go on taking the drug, you may be looking for other ways to feel full while still losing weight. While this option doesn’t have the rapid weight loss the drug offers many patients, it doesn’t make you projectile vomit or poop in your bed.
So what can you eat to feel fuller?
It’s the simple sugars (monosaccharides), peptides and amino acids (from proteins), and short-chain fatty acids (from lipids and also generated by healthy gut flora) that stimulate GLP-1 release. Foods heavy in fat or sugar and low in water content are examples of energy-dense foods rich in these macronutrients. There is some evidence that GLP-1 levels may be raised by eating meals rich in certain substances.
This suggests that GLP-1 levels may be raised by eating a nutritious diet rich in foods that stimulate GLP-1 production. This might be lean protein sources like eggs or meals high in healthy fats like avocados and almonds. Vegetables and whole grains are good examples of fermentable fibers that fuel the bacteria in our intestines, making short-chain fatty acids that may stimulate GLP-1 release.
Eating many of the three macronutrients—fat, fiber, or protein—can make you feel satiated for longer. This is why adjusting one’s diet is important in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.