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Ozempic Acid Reflux

The headline-making Type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic®, has been touted for its success in helping users lose weight. However, Ozempic is not approved for weight loss by the FDA, and the label does not disclose some common side effects, including Ozempic acid reflux. If you are experiencing acid reflux and vomiting at the same time, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Contact your health care provider to discuss any side effects you may be experiencing.

What is the difference between heartburn, acid reflux and GERD?

While the terms heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are often used interchangeably, they describe very different medical conditions. It is important to understand these differences when determining if you are dealing with a medical condition that may be linked to your use of Ozempic.

Here are some of the most noticeable differences:

  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux refers to your stomach contents traveling in the wrong direction. Instead of moving through the digestive system, food and other acids travel back up through your esophagus to your throat. Symptoms of acid reflux often include tasting stomach acid or food at the back of your throat, chest pain, a burning sensation in the back of your throat, dysphasia, laryngitis, a cough and a burning feeling in the chest.
  • GERD: GERD is similar to acid reflux but often more severe. Anyone who experiences heartburn two or more times each week may be diagnosed with GERD. With Ozempic and GERD, the closure of your lower esophagus relaxes or weakens when it shouldn't. Patients diagnosed with GERD often experience a dry cough, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Heartburn: Heartburn is caused by acid reflux. With heartburn, you may feel a burning sensation in your throat, neck or behind your breastbone (sternum). It may get worse when lying down, after eating, while bending over or at night. It should be noted that heartburn may be more common in people who are overweight and taking Ozempic.

If you believe you have developed these symptoms after starting Ozempic, it is important to speak with your health care provider to discuss potential treatment options.

Ozempic overview

Ozempic was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 to treat Type 2 diabetes. As of April 2024, unlike Wegovy®, Ozempic is not approved for weight loss or treating obesity. You cannot buy Ozempic or Wegovy over the counter. You must have a prescription from your physician to start taking semaglutide drugs. However, that does not prevent physicians across the country from prescribing Ozempic for off-label use, including weight loss.

Here is how it works :

  1. GLP-1 is released: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone produced in the intestinal endocrine cells, is released when you eat.
  2. Insulin is released: While you are eating, GLP-1 allows the body to release more insulin, decreasing blood sugar levels and balancing your blood glucose.
  3. Semaglutide is released: Higher amounts of semaglutide are released in your gastrointestinal tract and interact with your brain to make you feel full and reduce your appetite.

When you feel full sooner, you consume fewer calories and begin to lose weight. Part of the reason Ozempic is used to treat Type 2 diabetes is because losing weight can help reduce the symptoms of this medical condition. However, in recent years, millions of patients have been prescribed Ozempic strictly for off-label uses, including weight loss.

Unfortunately, off-label use can have off-label side effects. The use of Ozempic in and of itself can have many side effects, including Ozempic heartburn, nausea and vomiting, blood clots, acute kidney injury (AKI) and pancreatitis. However, off-label side effects can lead to permanent consequences, including gastroenteritis, intestinal blockages and gastroparesis.

Does Ozempic cause acid reflux?

Approximately 2% of patients report heartburn and acid reflux symptoms in clinical trials. Data indicates that patients taking 0.5 mg of Ozempic per week are more likely to experience acid reflux and heartburn. If you are experiencing acid reflux after starting Ozempic, consult your doctor.

Doctors should discuss Ozempic and acid reflux with patients before they start taking this semaglutide drug. Acid reflux is just one of the many side effects of Ozempic use. There are many other symptoms you might experience when prescribed Ozempic for on-label uses. For example, you might experience constipation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain.

Some side effects could include:

  • Belching: Also known as excessive burping or eructation, or the "Ozempic burp" eructation leads to a buildup of air in the digestive system and is often described as having a "rotten egg" smell. You may be experiencing eructation if your belches are particularly forceful, uncomfortable, or last longer than usual.
  • Ileus: In September 2022, the FDA added Ileus as an adverse effect of Ozempic use. This medical condition occurs when the intestines temporarily lose their ability to contract. This prevents food from being able to move through the body and keeps waste from exiting as a bowel movement. Symptoms of Ileus include loss of appetite, bloating, watery stools, dehydration, stomach cramping, vomiting, nausea and constipation.

More than 14,000 cases of side effects have been associated with Ozempic since 2018. Over 9,000 of the side effects have been linked to abdominal distension, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal issues. In fact, more than 15% of patients taking the standard 0.5 mg dose reported Ozempic nausea, over 7% reported Ozempic stomach pain, and 8.5% reported Ozempic diarrhea.

When the dosage was increased, so did many of the reported adverse reactions. At 1 mg of Ozempic, 20.3% of patients reported nausea, 9.2% reported vomiting and 8.8% reported diarrhea.

Does Ozempic cause heartburn?

One of the most common side effects of Ozempic is heartburn. Some of the most widely reported health problems after taking Ozempic include constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, all of which are related to heartburn. Consult with your doctor for Ozempic heartburn treatment options.

Why does Ozempic cause heartburn?

Patients have reported that after starting the semaglutide Ozempic, heartburn increased.

Ozempic works by slowing your digestive system. This can lead to food buildup in the stomach and intestines, which ultimately causes more irritation and gaseous release. You may also experience vomiting with continued use of the drug, which can cause acid reflux and irritate your digestive system.

While most side effects reported with Ozempic use get more severe with higher doses of Ozempic, heartburn appears to be the opposite. The slower movement of the digestive system is what helps you feel full quicker and for a longer time. However, the acid backup as your stomach fills puts pressure on your esophageal muscles, which may cause heartburn.

Ozempic heartburn may be a sign of a serious condition

Experiencing acid reflux and heartburn may be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Many patients take Ozempic for off-label uses, namely weight loss. Whether taking Ozempic for on or off-label uses, the side effects may be more severe than anticipated.

Some of the most widely reported serious conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Changes in vision
  • Delayed gastric emptying or stomach paralysis
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Kidney failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Pancreatitis or other issues with your pancreas
  • Thyroid tumors

The most severe complications can lead to or require hospitalization. The use of these GLP-1 drugs has been found to increase the risk of certain types of adverse gastrointestinal events, including bowel obstruction, biliary disease and gastroparesis. When semaglutide and GLP-1 agonist hormones are introduced into the body in a synthetic form, the side effects can become excessive. In fact, many people have been hospitalized for gastroparesis after taking semaglutide drugs.

Acid reflux and gastroparesis

Acid reflux may be one of the most common symptoms associated with gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is not listed on the label of Ozempic. Gastroparesis causes abdominal distention (swelling outward). This makes it easier for stomach acid to move backward through your stomach and into your esophagus.

Gastroparesis is characterized by delayed stomach emptying without blockages. It is a chronic disorder that patients may be forced to cope with for the rest of their lives. In many cases, when patients stop taking Ozempic, they report finding relief from their gastroparesis symptoms.

Some of the top symptoms associated with gastroparesis include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Changes in blood sugar levels
  • Fullness after eating small amounts of food
  • Lack of appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting undigested food
  • Weight loss

With Novo Nordisk failing to include Ozempic gastroparesis as a potential adverse reaction on the warning label, many patients are filing lawsuits alleging failure to warn.

Contact an Ozempic attorney

Have you been harmed by Ozempic? Complete this webform or call 1.800.768.4026 to contact attorneys Sara Couch or Jonathan Orent for more information or to discuss a potential Ozempic lawsuit.

Ozempic lawsuits

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Ozempic manufacturer Novo Nordisk and other GLP-1 agonist manufacturers. Many of these lawsuits were filed alleging failure to warn patients of potential risks associated with on-label and off-label Ozempic use. These risks could include the development of gastroparesis and other medical conditions that may include acid reflux as a symptom.

Patients have a right to be educated and informed about the possible side effects and risks associated with Wegovy, Ozempic or any other prescription drug. Failure to include these warnings on the drug label leaves Novo Nordisk and other GLP-1 agonist manufacturers open to liability for victims’ damages and suffering.

Furthermore, manufacturers may have been aware that gastroparesis and other serious side effects were possible. But they downplayed potential risks, which can often become permanent and require lifelong treatment, plaintiffs allege.

If you have begun taking Ozempic or Wegovy and are experiencing any symptoms or side effects that were not described on the warning label, seek treatment and care from your health care provider first. Contact a Motley Rice attorney to discuss your potential legal options and find out if you’re eligible to file an Ozempic lawsuit or a Wegovy lawsuit.

Our medical drug litigation experience

Motley Rice has helped thousands of victims of dangerous drugs demand justice and recover the compensation they deserve. Ozempic plaintiffs allege failure to warn patients of the serious off-label risks and side effects of the drug is negligent. Our team of medical lawyers is here to help you by:

  • Gathering evidence that shows Ozempic may be causing your medical issues
  • Identifying potential problems that could impact your future claim
  • Offering guidance as we navigate the litigation process
  • Reviewing allegations that Novo Nordisk failed to comply with FDA regulations

Read more on our medical drug litigation experience.

Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting with your doctor. Discontinuing a prescribed medication without your doctor's advice can result in injury or death. Wegovy and Ozempic remain approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sources
  1. Advanced Laparoscopic Surgeons of Morris. Ozempic Burp: What is it?.
  2. American Kidney Fund. Acute kidney injury (AKI).
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Gastroparesis.
  4. CNBC. Ozempic, Wegovy drug prescriptions hit 9 million, surge 300% in under three years. 
  5. Cureus. 2024 Jan; 16(1): e52564. Published online 2024 Jan 19. doi: 10.7759/cureus.52564
  6. FDA approval label: OZEMPIC (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/209637lbl.pdf
  7. Food and Drug Administration. FDA adverse events reporting system (FAERS) public dashboard
  8. Forbes. Ozempic For Weight Loss: Cost, Side Effects And Efficacy.
  9. Forbes Health. Ozempic Alternatives: 3 Options For Weight Loss, According To Experts.
  10. GoodRx Health. What You Can Do If Ozempic Is Giving You Heartburn.
  11. JAMA Network. Risk of Gastrointestinal Adverse Events Associated With Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists for Weight Loss.
  12. Mayo Clinic. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  13. Mayo Clinic. Gastroparesis.
  14. Mayo Clinic. Pancreatitis.
  15. Mount Sinai. Belching.
  16. NIH MedlinePlus Magazine. Acid reflux, Heartburn, and GERD: What’s the difference?
  17. UC Davis Health. Ozempic for weight loss: Does it work, and what do experts recommend?.
  18. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION: OZEMPIC (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use.
  19. USA Today. Dozens sue saying Ozempic, other weight loss and diabetes drugs cause harmful side effects.
  20. WebMD. Ileus: What Is It?

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