SEMAGLUTIDE (SEM a GLOO tide) treats type 2 diabetes. It works by increasing insulin levels in your body, which decreases your blood sugar (glucose). It also reduces the amount of sugar released into the blood and slows down your digestion. It can also be used to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes. Changes to diet and exercise are often combined with this medication.
What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
Endocrine tumors (MEN 2) or if someone in your family had these tumors
Eye disease, vision problems
History of pancreatitis
Thyroid cancer or if someone in your family had thyroid cancer
An unusual or allergic reaction to semaglutide, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
This medication is for injection under the skin of your upper leg (thigh), stomach area, or upper arm. It is given once every week (every 7 days). You will be taught how to prepare and give this medication. Use exactly as directed. Take your medication at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed.
If you use this medication with insulin, you should inject this medication and the insulin separately. Do not mix them together. Do not give the injections right next to each other. Change (rotate) injection sites with each injection.
It is important that you put your used needles and syringes in a special sharps container. Do not put them in a trash can. If you do not have a sharps container, call your pharmacist or care team to get one.
A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.
This medication comes with INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE. Ask your pharmacist for directions on how to use this medication. Read the information carefully. Talk to your pharmacist or care team if you have questions.
Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. Special care may be needed.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can within 5 days after the missed dose. Then take your next dose at your regular weekly time. If it has been longer than 5 days after the missed dose, do not take the missed dose. Take the next dose at your regular time. Do not take double or extra doses. If you have questions about a missed dose, contact your care team for advice.
What may interact with this medication?
Other medications for diabetes
Many medications may cause changes in blood sugar, these include:
Alcohol containing beverages
Antiviral medications for HIV or AIDS
Aspirin and aspirin-like medications
Certain medications for blood pressure, heart disease, irregular heart beat
Female hormones, such as estrogens or progestins, birth control pills
Male hormones or anabolic steroids
MAOIs like Carbex, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate
Medications for weight loss
Medications for allergies, asthma, cold, or cough
Medications for depression, anxiety, or psychotic disturbances
NSAIDs, medications for pain and inflammation, like ibuprofen or naproxen
Quinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, ofloxacin
Some herbal dietary supplements
Steroid medications such as prednisone or cortisone
Some medications can hide the warning symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). You may need to monitor your blood sugar more closely if you are taking one of these medications. These include:
Beta-blockers, often used for high blood pressure or heart problems (examples include atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol)
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?
Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:
Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
Change in vision
Dehydration—increased thirst, dry mouth, feeling faint or lightheaded, headache, dark yellow or brown urine
Gallbladder problems—severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever
Heart palpitations—rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
Kidney injury—decrease in the amount of urine, swelling of the ankles, hands, or feet
Pancreatitis—severe stomach pain that spreads to your back or gets worse after eating or when touched, fever, nausea, vomiting
Thyroid cancer—new mass or lump in the neck, pain or trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, hoarseness
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):
Loss of appetite
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Visit your care team for regular checks on your progress.
Drink plenty of fluids while taking this medication. Check with your care team if you get an attack of severe diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The loss of too much body fluid can make it dangerous for you to take this medication.
A test called the HbA1C (A1C) will be monitored. This is a simple blood test. It measures your blood sugar control over the last 2 to 3 months. You will receive this test every 3 to 6 months.
Learn how to check your blood sugar. Learn the symptoms of low and high blood sugar and how to manage them.
Always carry a quick-source of sugar with you in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. Examples include hard sugar candy or glucose tablets. Make sure others know that you can choke if you eat or drink when you develop serious symptoms of low blood sugar, such as seizures or unconsciousness. They must get medical help at once.
Tell your care team if you have high blood sugar. You might need to change the dose of your medication. If you are sick or exercising more than usual, you might need to change the dose of your medication.
Do not skip meals. Ask your care team if you should avoid alcohol. Many nonprescription cough and cold products contain sugar or alcohol. These can affect blood sugar.
Pens should never be shared. Even if the needle is changed, sharing may result in passing of viruses like hepatitis or HIV.
Wear a medical ID bracelet or chain, and carry a card that describes your disease and details of your medication and dosage times.
Do not become pregnant while taking this medication. Women should inform their care team if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your care team for more information.
Where should I keep my medication?
Keep out of the reach of children.
Store unopened pens in a refrigerator between 2 and 8 degrees C (36 and 46 degrees F). Do not freeze. Protect from light and heat. After you first use the pen, it can be stored for 56 days at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F) or in a refrigerator. Throw away your used pen after 56 days or after the expiration date, whichever comes first.
Do not store your pen with the needle attached. If the needle is left on, medication may leak from the pen.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
This information is educational only and should not be construed as specific instructions for individual patients nor as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about the information and instructions. K Health assumes no liability for any use or reliance on this information.