If you’ve been prescribed Ozempic, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, you may have concerns about its potential side effects. One frequently asked question is whether Ozempic can cause heartburn.

If you’re experiencing heartburn, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest that can be uncomfortable and even painful. While heartburn is common, it can be exacerbated by certain medications, including Ozempic.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the relationship between Ozempic and heartburn. We’ll examine the possible causes of heartburn and provide tips for managing heartburn symptoms.

Key Takeaways

  • A small percentage of Ozempic users experience heartburn as a side effect, with clinical study findings indicating around 2% of individuals affected.  Patients may experience other stomach reactions or digestive side effects such as nausea, vomiting, burping, and acid reflux.
  • Heartburn may be slightly more common in individuals receiving a lower dose of Ozempic (0.5mg) than those on a higher dose (1mg), which is a notable deviation from the typical pattern of side effects increasing with higher doses.
  • Ozempic’s mechanism of action, including slowing down digestion and increasing pressure on the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), might contribute to the development of heartburn in some users.
  • The duration of heartburn caused by Ozempic can vary among individuals, with many experiencing a decrease in symptoms over time as the body adjusts to the medication.
  • Despite the discomfort, the gastrointestinal side effects of Ozempic, including heartburn, are generally manageable, with a low percentage of users discontinuing the medication due to these issues.
  • Preventing and managing heartburn while taking Ozempic can involve lifestyle and dietary modifications, support from healthcare professionals, and possibly over-the-counter medications, highlighting the importance of comprehensive side effect management.

Does Ozempic Cause Heartburn?

Ozempic, an injectable medication for managing type 2 diabetes, has been reported to cause heartburn in a small percentage of users. According to clinical study findings, about 2% of individuals taking Ozempic experience heartburn as a side effect. This symptom is listed in the prescribing information for Ozempic under various terms including dyspepsia, eructation, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (reflux).

Notably, heartburn was reported to be 1% higher in individuals receiving the lower dose (0.5mg) compared to those on the higher dose (1mg), which is interesting given that typically, medication side effects increase with higher doses. These findings suggest that while heartburn is not a common side effect of Ozempic, it does affect a select group of individuals.

Why Does Ozempic Cause Heartburn?

A man having a gastroesophageal reflux disease

The exact mechanism by which Ozempic causes heartburn in some individuals is not definitively known, but several theories exist based on the medication’s effects on the body. Here’s a deeper look into why Ozempic may lead to heartburn:

1. Slowed Digestion

Ozempic belongs to a class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), which function, in part, by slowing the stomach’s emptying rate. This delayed gastric emptying helps prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes and promotes a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight loss.

However, this slowed digestion means that food and liquids stay in the stomach longer than usual, potentially leading to heartburn. A small study involving 20 women found that 37% of a solid meal remained in the stomach four hours after eating among those taking Ozempic. In contrast, no such retention was observed in those not on the medication.

2. Increased Pressure on the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)

The LES is a muscle at the junction between the esophagus and stomach, functioning to prevent stomach contents from refluxing back into the esophagus. Ozempic’s effect of slowing digestion can increase the duration food remains in the stomach, elevating pressure on the LES.

Additionally, side effects of Ozempic like burping may further weaken LES function, allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus and cause heartburn. Excess weight, which may be present in individuals with type 2 diabetes, also contributes to increased abdominal pressure and, consequently, pressure on the LES.

3. Changes in Stomach Acid Levels

With food lingering longer in the stomach due to Ozempic’s action, there may be alterations in the production or presence of stomach acid. The body produces stomach acid to aid food digestion, but a prolonged presence of food could result in differing acid levels compared to individuals not on the medication.

A phenomenon known as the “acid pocket,” where undigested food causes a pool of acid to float on top of the stomach contents, could exacerbate heartburn symptoms. This acid pocket is more problematic in individuals experiencing heartburn or reflux.

How Long Does Ozempic-Induced Heartburn Last?

The duration of heartburn experienced by Ozempic users can vary, and no specific studies directly measure how long this side effect lasts. Generally, gastrointestinal (GI) side effects are common when starting any injectable medication for diabetes, including Ozempic, and especially when the dosage is increased. However, most individuals see a spontaneous resolution of these symptoms while continuing the medication.

In a broader evaluation of Ozempic’s gastrointestinal side effects, only 4.3% of 803 participants discontinued the medication due to GI discomfort, indicating that the benefits of taking Ozempic often outweigh the inconvenience of side effects for many users. This suggests that while heartburn can occur, it is generally manageable and may decrease in intensity or resolve entirely over time as the body adjusts to the medication.

How to Achieve Ozempic Heartburn Relief: Prevention Tips

Managing heartburn while taking Ozempic involves a multi-faceted approach focusing on lifestyle and dietary changes, the support of dietitians, non-medicine remedies, over-the-counter medications, and preventative measures. To manage heartburn caused by Ozempic, you can follow these strategies:

1. Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn.

A fat man holding greasy and fried foods with a mug of beer

Some foods and beverages can exacerbate heartburn symptoms. Limit or avoid the following foods:

  • Greasy and fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Peppermint

2. Opt for heartburn-friendly foods and drinks.

healthy food concept in a wooden table including chicken and salmon

Include foods that may help improve heartburn symptoms in your diet, such as:

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon

3. Change your sleep position

Heartburn can worsen at night. Try sleeping slightly propped up to aid gravity in keeping stomach acid down. Elevating the head of your bed by 6 to 10 inches can also help. Sleeping on your left side is recommended as it helps keep stomach acid in the stomach, in contrast to sleeping on your back, which can worsen reflux.

4. Wear loose clothing

Tight clothes can increase pressure on your abdomen, pushing stomach acid into the esophagus and triggering heartburn. Choose loose-fitting garments to alleviate pressure and reduce heartburn.

5. Herbal Remedies

A licorice tea in a cup

The herbal remedies for managing symptoms while taking Ozempic include:

  • Ginger: Known for its gastrointestinal soothing properties, ginger can help manage stomach issues, including nausea and heartburn. Ginger tea or a small piece of ginger root can alleviate symptoms.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile tea is often recommended for its calming effects and ability to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, which can help ease heartburn symptoms.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera juice is soothing to the GI tract and can help reduce inflammation, potentially easing heartburn symptoms. It’s important to use aloe vera juice formulated for internal use.
  • Licorice: Specifically, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) can help increase the mucus coating in the esophagus and stomach, protecting it from acid. DGL comes in chewable tablets and should be taken as directed, avoiding overuse.

Remember

While herbal remedies can be effective for some individuals, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution and may interact with medications. For example, individuals taking Ozempic or other medications should consult their healthcare provider before starting any herbal remedy. Some herbs can speed up digestion, which might counteract the effects of medications like Ozempic. Furthermore, it’s crucial to source these herbs from reputable suppliers to ensure quality and safety.

6. Try over-the-counter reflux medication.

For immediate heartburn relief, consider using over-the-counter antacids like:

  • Tums
  • Rolaids
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Mylanta

These can provide quick but short-lasting relief. For more prolonged relief, histamine-2-antagonists (H2 blockers) such as Famotidine (Pepcid AC) or Cimetidine (Tagamet HB) may be beneficial. These medications take longer to start working but offer longer-lasting relief.

Remember

If your heartburn persists for more than two weeks, or if it’s severe enough to interfere with your eating and drinking, or if you’re considering stopping Ozempic due to the discomfort, consult your healthcare provider. They may prescribe other medications like proton pump inhibitors to manage the symptoms more effectively or adjust your treatment plan to alleviate the side effects. Additionally, ensure you discuss any other medications you’re taking that could potentially worsen heartburn, as alternatives may be available.

FAQs About Ozempic

Is heartburn a side effect of Ozempic?

Yes, heartburn is a potential side effect of Ozempic. Other common side effects of Ozempic include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Some individuals have also experienced heartburn, which may be linked to these other side effects.

How do you stop acid reflux on Ozempic?

Drinking plenty of water and limiting the consumption of carbonated beverages can be helpful. Many foods that should be avoided while using Ozempic can contribute to acid reflux, such as high-fat foods, carbonated beverages, and spicy, salty, or fried foods.

Why am I burping so much on Ozempic?

One of the Ozempic’s side effects can be digestive issues, including sulfur burps. Ozempic slows gastric emptying, sometimes leading to sulfur build-up due to certain dietary choices.

How do you get rid of gas from Ozempic?

Gas and burping are considered mild side effects in most cases. However, if they are bothersome or persistent during your Ozempic treatment, it’s advisable to consult your doctor. They may recommend dietary adjustments or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as Gas-X (simethicone), to help relieve gas and burping.

Does Ozempic cause heartburn and acid reflux?

Yes. In clinical studies, approximately 2% of individuals reported symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn.

Final Thoughts

While Ozempic is a valuable medication for managing type 2 diabetes, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects, including heartburn. Though this side effect is relatively uncommon, affecting a small percentage of users, understanding its possible causes and remedies can significantly affect how you manage your treatment plan. Remember, slowed digestion, increased pressure on the LES, and changes in stomach acid levels are key factors that may contribute to heartburn when taking Ozempic.

If you experience heartburn, consider consulting your healthcare provider to discuss possible adjustments to your treatment or lifestyle changes that can help alleviate symptoms. Moreover, exploring non-medication and medication remedies for heartburn relief, while ensuring they do not interfere with your diabetes management, can provide additional comfort.

As with any medication, the benefits of Ozempic in controlling blood sugar levels and aiding in weight loss must be weighed against potential side effects. With proper management and open communication with your healthcare team, you can effectively minimize discomfort and focus on the positive impacts of your treatment.

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Sources

Novo Nordisk Inc. (n.d.). OZEMPIC ® (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use [PDF]. Novo Nordisk Inc. https://www.novo-pi.com/ozempic.pdf

Jensterle, M., Ferjan, S., Ležai?, L., So?an, A., Gori?ar, K., Zaletel, K., & Janez, A. (2023). Semaglutide delays 4-hour gastric emptying in women with polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity. Diabetes Obes Metab, 25(4), 975-984.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36511825/

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). Gastrointestinal tolerability of once-weekly semaglutide 2.4 mg in adults with overweight or obesity, and the relationship between gastrointestinal adverse events and weight loss – PubMed. PubMed. Retrieved, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34514682/