The side effects of Saxenda®
Reviewed by our clinical team
Saxenda® is a daily weight loss injection used to help people with high BMIs lose weight. The active ingredient is liraglutide, so sometimes the treatment is referred to as liraglutide rather than Saxenda®. Saxenda® is available for some people on the NHS. It can also be accessed privately through LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor’s medicated weight loss service following a suitability assessment.
What are the side effects?
Not everybody using Saxenda® will get side effects, but we recommend being mindful of the potential side effects of the treatment. Side effects can be broken down into four groups: very common, common, uncommon, and rare.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the side effects of medicated weight loss, or feel unwell when using Saxenda®, we recommend talking to your doctor or the clinician who prescribed your treatment.
Serious side effects of Saxenda®
Serious side effects of Saxenda® are rare. There have been some reports of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). If you experience breathing difficulties or swelling of the face and throat call 999 or visit A&E immediately.
Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) is also a rare but serious side effect. Pancreatitis is a serious, potentially life threatening medical condition. Stop taking Saxenda® and contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following serious side effects at the same time, as they could be a sign of pancreatitis:
- Severe and persistent pain in the abdomen (stomach area) which might reach through to your back
- Nausea and vomiting
Very common side effects of Saxenda®
The very common side effects of Saxenda® are likely to affect more than 1 in 10 patients. These side effects include:
- Feeling sick (nausea)
Patients experiencing these side effects often report that they go away after several days or weeks.
To help manage the nausea, get fresh air whenever possible, sip a cold drink or peppermint tea, and eat smaller more frequent meals.
We also recommend that you don’t cook anything strong smelling and avoiding greasy and fried foods.
Common side effects of Saxenda®
Common side effects may affect up to 1 in 10 people. They include:
- A change to your sense of taste
- Feeling dizzy
- Stomach problems such as indigestion, discomfort, heartburn, feeling bloated, wind and belching, dry mouth, and gastritis (this is inflammation in the lining of the stomach)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reactions around the injection site, such as bruising, itching and pain
- An increase in pancreatic enzymes, such as lipase and amylase
Low blood sugar is also a common side effect. The symptoms of low blood sugar may appear suddenly and include:
- Feeling anxious or nervous
- Cool pale skin
- Feeling sick
- Feeling hungry
Uncommon side effects of Saxenda®
Uncommon side effects of Saxenda® may affect 1 in 100 people. They include:
- Increased pulse rate
- Feeling generally unwell
- Dehydration – this is likely to be a side effect of the common side effects of vomiting and diarrhoea
- An inflamed gall bladder
- A delay in the emptying the stomach
Rare side effects of Saxenda®
The rare side effects of Saxenda® include reduced kidney function and kidney failure and may affect up to 1 in 100 people. The signs are a metallic taste in the mouth, a reduction in urine volume and skin that easily bruises. You should contact your doctor immediately if experiencing these side effects.
Do the side effects of Saxenda® go away?
Some of the milder side effects of Saxenda®, such as nausea, do go away within a couple of weeks. If you’re having trouble managing your side effects, we recommend talking to your doctor. You can contact LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor through your Patient Record if your prescription is with us.
Tips for managing very common and common side effects of Saxenda®
Feeling sick (nausea)
Feeling sick on Saxenda® is very common.
To manage nausea, we recommend eating small, plain meals, and avoiding greasy foods and anything with a strong smell. Drink plenty of water and try some herbal teas, such as peppermint and ginger. You could also give ginger biscuits a try.
Getting outside in the fresh air should provide some relief, as well as distracting yourself with some music or a podcast.
An antacid could also help. You will be able to get these from your local pharmacy.
If you’re really struggling with nausea, contact your GP, or, if prescribed by LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, send us a message in your Patient Record.
Vomiting is a very common side effect. If you’re vomiting, it’s very important to stay hydrated. Lots of water is recommended, and you could also try herbal teas. Again, an antacid could help, which you’ll be able to get from your local pharmacy.
If you’re vomiting several times a day, Saxenda® might not be suitable for you, and you should discuss your symptoms with your GP, call NHS 111, or send us a message in your Patient Record.
Again, it’s important to stay hydrated. Rehydration salts from your local pharmacy are an option.
If diarrhoea persists over several days, or you get any bleeding, it’s important that you call NHS 111, or your GP. You could also send us a message in your Patient Record if your treatment has been prescribed by LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.
If you’re constipated whilst on Saxenda®, we recommend staying hydrated, and eating more fibre, such as wholegrain cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables. Some light exercise could also provide relief.
If constipation persists, a gentle over the counter laxative is an option, but we recommend talking to your pharmacist first, or sending us a message in your Patient Record.
Reactions around the injection site
Some people using medicated weight loss report injection site reactions, such as itching, swelling, pain and bruising. If you experience this, an antihistamine from your local pharmacy may help, such as a cream or tablet. If you find the reaction very uncomfortable, or it seems to be getting worse, call NHS 111, your GP or message us in your Patient Record.
The usual headache remedies may help here, such as drinking more water and taking painkillers, such as paracetamol. You could also try lying down and using a cold compress on your forehead.
Some fresh air and a gentle walk might help too.
It’s important to call NHS 111 or talk to your GP for advice if your headaches worsen or aren’t relieved by the above. You can also message us in your Patient Record if you get your treatment from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.