Ozempic is a brand-name prescription medication that works with diet and exercise to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar.
The effects of drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic have not been studied. However, drinking heavy amounts of alcohol can cause low blood sugar and may worsen Ozempic’s side effects.
Because of the unknowns and possible danger, talk with your medical provider before considering alcohol use while taking Ozempic.
Experts have not studied the effects drinking alcohol may have on a person who uses Ozempic. Therefore, it is difficult to predict what the outcome may be. However, we do know there are concerns related to drinking alcohol for people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Does that mean you can never drink alcohol? No, but there are some things you should know before mixing alcohol with diabetes and Ozempic.
Read on to learn more about how alcohol affects blood sugar and possibly may affect a person taking Ozempic.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a prescription medication that works with diet and exercise to help adults with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar and lower their A1C. A1C is a test result that shows a person’s average sugar levels for the past 2-3 months. People who use Ozempic give themselves a weekly injection of the medication into their upper arm, abdomen, or thigh. It comes in a pre-filled pen that is easy to use.
Ozempic also helps decrease the risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and death for people with type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease. Many people who take Ozempic lose weight. However, the FDA does not approve it for weight loss.
People who are pregnant or nursing should not take Ozempic as the effect on a baby is unknown. Ozempic may affect other medical conditions as well. People with the following conditions should avoid taking Ozempic:
- Kidney disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Medullary thyroid carcinoma
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2
Effects of Ozempic on Blood Glucose
The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide. It is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist that has several actions in the body to help maintain blood glucose in a healthy range. It does this by:
- Stimulating the pancreas to secrete more insulin when blood sugar rises
- Decreasing the amount of glucagon the liver releases
- Slowing digestion which slows the rate of sugar released into the bloodstream
Do Ozempic and Alcohol Interact?
Experts have not directly tested if Ozempic and alcohol interact, and there is no guidance from the FDA drug information about mixing Ozempic and alcohol. However, this doesn’t make it safe to do so. Several side effects of Ozempic may be amplified in people who drink alcohol. These may include:
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. It is a possible side effect that’s been reported with Ozempic. Pancreatitis is also linked to chronic and excessive alcohol misuse.
- Kidney problems: Some people taking Ozempic have reported acute kidney injury according to the medication’s FDA label. Alcohol is also related to possible kidney injury from acute or chronic alcohol consumption.
- Digestive effects: Common side effects of Ozempic include nausea and vomiting. Drinking alcohol can also aggravate the digestive system and cause these symptoms as well. Combining Ozempic and alcohol may worsen digestive upset.
Effects of Alcohol on Blood Glucose
The American Diabetes Association cautions people with type 2 diabetes when it comes to drinking alcohol. The biggest concern is low blood sugar, a condition healthcare professionals call hypoglycemia. When alcohol is mixed with medications that lower blood sugar, hypoglycemia can result.
Hypoglycemia symptoms are very similar to symptoms of being tipsy or drunk:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty walking
This makes the two conditions difficult to tell apart for yourself and people around you who may be able to help you if your blood sugar gets low. Timing can also cause a problem because hypoglycemia may occur several hours after your last drink.
Guidelines for Drinking Alcohol While Taking Ozempic
If you wish to have an occasional alcoholic drink and you are using Ozempic, it’s a good idea to talk about this with your doctor. Here are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Make sure you only drink a moderate amount of alcohol. Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol typically does not cause hypoglycemia. A moderate amount is one drink for females and two drinks for males. One drink is eight ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof spirits. Keeping your alcohol limited to these amounts may help you stay safe.
Be sure to eat when you drink. Drinking on an empty stomach is more likely to cause hypoglycemia. Eating food while you drink, especially protein helps slow digestion and may keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. Be sure to avoid eating foods with high amounts of sugar while you eat, as these can cause a rise in your blood sugar.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to let your friends and family know about your diabetes. Make sure they know the signs of hypoglycemia, which may include: dizziness, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, chills, sweats, tremors, slurring of speech or even passing out., so they can help you if your blood sugar gets too low. If you were to pass out, those who you are with need to know this is a medical emergency and get you the appropriate help.
When to See a Medical Provider
Talk with your medical provider if you take Ozempic and have questions about drinking alcohol as well. Overall, healthcare professionals caution against drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic because of concerns for hypoglycemia. More studies are needed to know how Ozempic and alcohol affect each other.
If you are new to taking Ozempic, your medical professional may ask you to wait until you’ve been taking it for a while before drinking alcohol. In the beginning, sometimes your dose of Ozempic may need to change depending on how your body reacts and how you tolerate any side effects. Because alcohol may alter your sugar levels, it may make it more difficult to see how Ozempic is actually affecting you.
If you do choose to have a drink, remember to limit yourself to a moderate amount of alcohol. Be sure to eat a meal with protein when you drink, and let your friends and family know about your diabetes. This way, they can help get you treatment if you need it.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Alcohol and diabetes. (n.d.).
Alcohol’s impact on kidney function. (1998).
Alcohol pancreatitis. (2022).