Can you skip Ozempic while on vacation?

Can you skip Ozempic while on vacation?

Key points

  • People on social media are discussing skipping doses of diabetes and weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy on vacation so they can enjoy more food and drink.
  • Experts do not advise skipping doses of Ozempic for periods of time and suggest patients consult their doctor before doing so.
  • Skipping doses can have side effects and potentially lead to runaway blood sugar or weight gain.

One of the side effects of type 2 diabetes medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro is increased satiety or a feeling of fullness after meals, something that can make it difficult to indulge in holiday treats. It’s also part of the reason these drugs are prescribed off-label for weight loss.

Some social media users say they’re skipping doses of these drugs during the holidays to enjoy more food, not have to worry about injections, and drink more alcohol (some people report that Ozempic kills their appetite for alcohol).

But there are consequences to missing a dose or two of Ozempic, Mounjaro, or Wegovy.

John Buse, MD, PhD, director of the Diabetes Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, told Verywell that in general, taking a break from such medications when you’re on vacation is a really bad idea.

Buse explains that for people who are prescribed these drugs for medical reasons, such as managing type 2 diabetes or weight loss, following medication guidelines is very important. Not only do you increase the chance of side effects when you resume your medications after a break, but your medications should be taken on the correct dosing schedule so they work as effectively as possible.

Taking medications at intervals because you think it’s better than taking them as prescribed is just not a good idea, she said.

What happens when you miss a dose of Ozempic?

Novo Nordisk, the drugmaker of Ozempic, says the drug should be taken once a week, on the same day each week, exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If a dose is missed, the drug maker says to take the missed injection as soon as possible within five days. After the five day limit, patients are advised to take their next dose on the regularly scheduled day.

Buse explained that when patients start taking injectable GLP-1 agonist drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, they can experience side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. These side effects often go away with time, once the patient gets used to the drug.

But if someone stops for a period of time and then starts taking the drugs again, they’re at risk of the initial side effects returning, Buse said. This is especially true for people who have experienced severe side effects when they first started taking the drug.

If a patient of mine has specifically asked to go on vacation and is considering stopping the drug while on vacation, I would strongly advise against doing so, Buse said. And frankly, I would ask the question, why did you come up with this idea?

For patients who rely on semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) or tirzepatide (Mounjaro) to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity, stopping the drug is unwise for health reasons, even if the patient wants to. regain your appetite. In fact, Buse said not taking the drug on vacation could make patients feel out of control with their food.

Your blood sugar may not be well controlled if you skip doses, and that could be concerning for someone who has diabetes, Vijaya Surampudi, MD, assistant professor of medicine in UCLA’s division of human nutrition, told Verywell.

Also, taking a break from these medications without consulting a healthcare professional may warrant necessary dosage changes when the patient starts again.

It is important to note that only those prescribed these drugs should take them. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved Ozempic and Mounjaro for type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy has been approved for weight loss. Ozempic and Mounjaro are prescribed off-label for weight loss.

There are many people who take these drugs almost recreationally, Buse said. If you feel you don’t need the drug [on vacation]since you don’t have the problem, you probably shouldn’t take the drug.

How long can you stay off Ozempic and maintain your weight?

Buse said the half-life of these drugs is about a week. Because these medications help control appetite by promoting feelings of fullness, skipping doses will reduce that effect. Seven to eight days after the last dose, patients can expect to feel a little hungrier than they would two to three days after taking the drug, she said.

Patients may still have some of the drug in their system for about three to four weeks after stopping it, Buse added, but it’s not enough to control appetite. If appetite increases, patients may eat more than they are used to, which could lead to weight gain.

Surampudi said patients may start to notice gaining weight shortly after stopping treatment.

Weight regain can happen quite quickly with these drugs, she said. It may be different for everyone, but we’ve only seen it a few weeks; people feel like a couple of pounds are coming back because their appetite is coming back.

How to resume taking Ozempic after a break

Depending on how long a patient takes a break from medications, they may need to start again on a lower dose, Buse said. This is because drugs like Ozempic or Mounjaro are started at lower doses before a patient is gradually increased to a full dose.

Patients taking Wegovy, for example, typically start a dose of 0.25 milligram once a week for four weeks before increasing the dose in intervals until it reaches 2.4 mg.

If someone misses just one weekly injection, it might be fine for them to take the next dose as usual, Buse said. But for people who missed three or more weeks, they’ll likely have to start over on a lower dose to avoid side effects and readjust to the drug’s presence in their system.

Just be prepared for the fact that you may have more nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, depending on how severe it is [side effect] the experience was for you at the beginning [of starting the medication]he said. If it went really bad to begin with, maybe we want to start over on a lower dose, which means a new prescription.

Drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy are often meant to treat chronic health conditions and need to be taken long-term, not started and stopped. If someone needs to manage their weight or diabetes, that need won’t change just because they go on vacation.

Surampudi compares these drugs to other drugs that help patients live longer and healthier lives.

Once the blood pressure is controlled, it’s not like we stop that medication, he said. This is how I like to think about it when explaining it to people: Just because your weight is controlled doesn’t mean we stop the medicine.

What does it mean to you

Taking a break from diabetes or diet drugs like Ozempic while on vacation isn’t advisable, according to health experts. Instead, patients should continue with their regular dosing schedule in order to prevent any adverse health outcomes or side effects.

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