Tirzepatide Side Effects and How to Overcome Them

woman learning about tirzepatide side effects

Tirzepatide has not been on the market long, but it is quickly earning a name for itself. In November 2023, a little over a year after its original release, tirzepatide was FDA-approved for weight loss after being fast-tracked. 

Unlike many other weight loss medications, tirzepatide is a dual-agonist with an impressive bioavailability of approximately 80%. So, it is no surprise that it has shown remarkable results in clinical trials. On average, users experienced a 20.9% reduction in body weight. For those who adopted healthier lifestyles, including diet and exercise, there was an even more substantial average weight loss of 26%.

Despite its effectiveness, tirzepatide is not without its side effects. Understanding these potential drawbacks and knowing how to manage them is crucial for anyone considering this medication. 

What are the side effects of tirzepatide?

Tirzepatide has been shown to be highly effective for weight loss. But, like all medications, it does come with a range of potential side effects. From mildly discomforting to potentially serious, it is important that you understand the risks associated with taking tirzepatide for weight loss. 

Common side effect of tirzepatide

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Diarrhea, Nausea, and Vomiting

One of the most common tirzepatide side effects is gastrointestinal issues. Up to 10% of patients taking tirzepatide may experience decreased appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Fatigue

Fatigue is another side effect that some users may experience. This can manifest as a general sense of tiredness or low energy, impacting daily activities. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Headache

While there is no direct evidence that tirzepatide causes headaches, some of the other documented tirzepatide side effects can indirectly lead to headaches. As a result, many individuals taking the medication may experience this symptom.

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Skin Irritation

Many individuals may experience injection site irritation and inflammation. 

Tirzepatide long-term side effects

In addition to the more common side effects of tirzepatide, there are some more long-term side effects with potentially serious consequences that you should be aware of. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Pancreatitis

GLP-1 medications like tirzepatide have a higher potential for pancreatitis. If an individual on tirzepatide experiences severe stomach or abdominal pain or persistent low back pain, they should contact their doctor immediately. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Thyroid Tumors

All GLP-1 weight loss medications include a warning for the potentially increased risk of thyroid tumors, including medullary thyroid cancer. Currently, studies only show an increase in thyroid C-cell tumors in rats. And, a recent study suggests that there is no substantial increase in thyroid cancer risk

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Kidney Issues

Some of the potential side effects of tirzepatide are acute kidney injury and potential kidney failure. The medication itself might not be the cause, but the severe dehydration linked to the common gastrointestinal issues can be. Hydration is critical for tirzepatide users.

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Gallbladder

There is also the potential for gallbladder issues. If tirzepatide users experience persistent upper stomach pain, fever, yellowing of the skin and eyes, or clay-colored stools, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Hair Loss

Again, tirzepatide is not the direct cause of hair loss, but it is a potential indirect tirzepatide side effect. Rapid weight loss can trigger a condition known as Telogen effluvium (TE), which results in non-scarring hair loss. TE can occur up to a few months after the “trauma”. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: “Ozempic Face”

While this term is most associated with semaglutide, it is a universal side effect of extreme weight loss. The fat in your face, and other areas of your body, provides support. As you quickly drop the weight, the loss of fat can cause a saggy, deflated appearance. 

Other side effects of tirzepatide

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Anxiety

Some tirzepatide users may experience anxiety while taking the medication. However, studies show that there is actually a reduced risk of anxiety while taking GLP-1 receptor agonists. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Depression

Similar to anxiety, users may experience depression while on the medication. However, there is not a heightened risk of developing depression. In fact, there is a decreased likelihood of depression for GLP-1 medication users. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Cardiovascular

Sinus tachycardia may occur in patients taking tirzepatide. However, this side effect is likely tied to preexisting conditions and not the medication itself. 

Tirzepatide Side Effects: Low Blood Sugar

Diabetic patients taking medications that lower blood sugar, such as sulfonylureas or insulin, may have an increased risk of hypoglycemia. 

Does tirzepatide cause cancer?

There is no evidence that tirzepatide increases the risk of cancer. Though there is some concern about thyroid C-cell tumors, research is still underway. 

Obesity increases the risk of many cancers, but lowering BMI and maintaining normal blood glucose levels can help to improve the response to anti-cancer therapies. Some anti-diabetic and glucose-lowering drugs have been found to have anti-cancer potential. GLP-1R/GIPR agonists, like tirzepatide, were found to have several anti-neoplastic effects in different cancers.

Tirzepatide vs Semaglutide: which medication has fewer side effects?

Both tirzepatide and semaglutide are GLP-1 receptor agonists, designed to help with weight loss and managing blood sugar levels. Tirzepatide is a dual agonist, targeting both GLP-1 and GIP receptors, which can enhance its effectiveness.

Despite this difference, there is no significant variation in the side effect profiles of these two medications. In fact, many of the side effects are similar for both. Common side effects include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as headaches and fatigue.

However, everyone reacts differently to medications. Patients who react poorly to semaglutide may have a more positive experience with tirzepatide and vice versa. Be sure to track your side effects and discuss them with your doctor to see if switching medications is a good choice. 

How to prevent some side effects of tirzepatide?

Many of the tirzepatide side effects cannot be prevented or mitigated, but there are many that can. 

    • Kidney Injury. The common gastrointestinal issues can lead to dehydration. That dehydration can then result in kidney injury. So, stay hydrated while on the medication. 
    • Gastrointestinal Issues. Though common, the gastrointestinal symptoms typically fade over time. You may still experience them as you increase your tirzepatide dosing, though. Try taking the medication with food to help alleviate these symptoms. 
  • Injection Site Irritation. If you are experiencing irritation at the injection site, rotate injection sites and apply ice or a warm compress to help with the discomfort.

Contact weight loss doctor to manage tirzepatide’s side effects

Managing the side effects of tirzepatide can be challenging, but maintaining contact with your healthcare provider can go a long way. 

A weight loss doctor can offer personalized care tailored to your specific health needs and circumstances. They can monitor your progress closely and make adjustments to your treatment plan as necessary, ensuring that you achieve optimal results with minimal discomfort.

Start your weightloss journey today. Schedule a consultation with a weight loss doctor with Heally. 




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