WEIGHT MANAGEMENT ∙ 3 minutes read

10 tips to help manage nausea

By Dr Jaskirt Matharu

Nausea, or feeling sick, is a side effect of semaglutide (also known by brand names Wegovy and Ozempic) that some people might experience when they first start their treatment. Not all people will experience side effects of semaglutide, and of those who do, the side effects will in most cases be mild and subside within a few weeks.  

However, if you do experience nausea, we’ve put together a number of tips that can help relieve the effect.

1. Drink plenty of water

Nausea is an unpleasant feeling, but drinking water can help. Drinking water alone is more gentle on the digestive system compared to eating food, meaning that the mechanism that causes nausea from semaglutide doesn’t kick in. Eat foods that contain plenty of water such as soups and broths, as they are also more gentle on the body than eating solid food. 

It's especially important to drink water if your nausea is severe, causing you to vomit. In that case, drink sips of water regularly to avoid dehydration.    

2. Eat plain, bland food

Even though eating in itself can cause nausea, the body needs the energy it gets from food - and eating the right kinds of food can actually relieve the feeling of nausea. Try to eat bland, low-fat foods like unbuttered toast, rice, bananas, and crackers. These foods are easy for your stomach to digest, causing fewer side effects. 

For the same reason, avoid heavy, fried, or spicy foods. These strain the stomach more, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.     

3. Eat smaller meals

The amount of food you eat can affect how likely you are to experience side effects. Eating a heavy meal rich in fat and calories will put more strain on the stomach, increasing the risk of nausea. Avoid this by eating smaller meals throughout the day. Eating smaller meals regularly will also reduce long periods of fasting. These periods can make you more hungry and crave unhealthy foods. 

4. Eat slowly

One of the weight loss mechanisms of semaglutide is that it slows down the emptying of the stomach. If you add eating slowly to that, the stomach will be filled gradually, making you feel fuller faster which reduces both appetite and the risk of feeling sick.

5. Don’t lie down too soon after eating

Lying down too soon after eating a meal can make the food reflux back through the oesophagus, causing heartburn and making you feel nauseous. Avoid this by not eating right before going to bed. 

You should always let the food be digested before doing anything strenuous as well since this can cause the same effect as laying down after eating. 

6. Wear loose, comfortable clothes

Figure-hugging and tight clothing might look good, but they can also put outward pressure on the stomach. This pressure can cause reflux of food through the oesophagus and nausea. By wearing comfortable clothes that are not too tight over the belly, the stomach can feel free and relaxed.    

7. Get some fresh air

Sometimes an unpleasant smell is all that’s needed to make you feel sick - whether that’s the smell of something cooking, a strong perfume, or the rubbish bin. Whatever the unpleasant smell might be, a fresh breeze of air will calm your sense of smell, reducing feelings of nausea.     

8. Try old-school remedies

Old-fashioned remedies have stood the test of time for good reason. Ginger is a popular root that many find relieves their nausea. It can be eaten fresh after being peeled or drunk as a juice - or even as ginger beer. Peppermint tea is another tried and tested remedy that can relieve nausea.  

9. Take over-the-counter medications

If none of the above tips help you relieve the feelings of nausea, there is always the option of using antiemetic (anti-nausea) medication. There are a number of over-the-counter drugs available that could be of help, such as antacids and antihistamines. 

Antacids work by neutralising the stomach acids and come as either a liquid or chewable tablets. Antihistamines are thought to counteract nausea by blocking signals to the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting. Something to be aware of is that they can cause drowsiness as well.   

10. Talk with your Health Coach

If you’re struggling with the side effects of your weight loss medication and not sure what to do, make sure to get in contact with your health coach who can guide you on what measure works best for you.

The bottom line

As with all medications, semaglutide can cause side effects that impact the gastrointestinal system which can lead to nausea, or feeling sick. In most cases, this won’t last long and can be easily treated from home. If you're worried about any of the side effects, make sure to contact your healthcare provider.