Created for people with type 2 diabetes, Trulicity is an injectable once-weekly medication that helps you better control your blood sugar levels.
It may also help with weight loss and prevent stroke, heart attack, and premature death in both type 2 diabetes and pre-existing heart disease.
But what are the side effects of this drug and how will it affect your daily life? In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about Trulicity side effects.
How does Trulicity work?
Trulicity is a brand-name medicine that contains the active ingredient dulaglutide.
It is not insulin and does not replace insulin, but is often used in conjunction with insulin to better manage diabetes.
Trulicity naturally lowers blood sugar levels by attaching to specific receptors on pancreatic cells. This signals the pancreas to release more insulin, thereby fighting high blood sugar.
At the same time, Trulicity inhibits the production of glucagon in the liver, preventing spikes in blood sugar after eating and increasing insulin sensitivity. It also slows down digestion, leading to appetite suppression and ultimately weight loss.
What are the side effects of Trulicity?
Trulicity may cause minor or moderate side effects, which is perfectly normal, especially at the beginning of use. These side effects may include:
- Suppressed appetite
- Weight loss
- Redness, swelling and bruising at the injection site
- Low blood sugar (especially if you also use insulin)
A few rare but serious side effects have been reported, including:
- Acute pancreatitis
- A severe allergic reaction
- Impaired kidney function
- Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)
Additionally, the FDA issued a black box warning regarding the use of Trulicity and its association with an increased risk of thyroid cancer. Talk to your doctor before trying Trulicity if you suffer from gastroparesis or chronic kidney disease (CKD), as Trulicity may make these conditions worse.
If you experience side effects that last more than a few weeks or even up to a month, or if they are so debilitating that you are having trouble with work, school, or maintaining a personal or social life, it’s time to talk to your doctor about reducing your dose or finding an alternative medication. to which the body can better adapt.
How can the side effects of Trulicity be mitigated?
If you are struggling with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and consuming electrolytes (coconut water is great for this).
Make sure your blood sugar stays within a healthy range. If they are consistently too high, you can fall into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be fatal if left untreated.
Low blood sugar can also be very dangerous and is of particular concern if you are also taking insulin.
To manage nausea, stick to bland foods like toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce, and drink plenty of clear fluids. If you are so nauseous that you are unable to stop eating or drinking, contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention.
It’s helpful to eat smaller, more frequent meals and always stop eating when you’re full, even if you think you’re eating less than normal (this is expected).
You can also take over-the-counter anti-nausea medications such as Dramamine or talk to your doctor about a Zofran prescription.
Does taking more Trulicity make side effects worse?
The higher the dose of Trulicity, the more likely you are to experience side effects. In a clinical trial involving people taking higher dose options, approximately 16% of study participants experienced worsening of nausea, leading to approximately 1% stopping taking the drug altogether.
That’s why it’s important to always follow your doctor’s instructions on taking Trulicity and never take more than prescribed. This is especially true when you first start taking the drug. Your doctor will adjust the dose as your body gets used to the medicine.
Do you have to take Trulicity with food?
NO. Unlike insulin, Trulicity can be taken with or without food. Although Trulicity lowers blood sugar over time, it does not cause acute low blood sugar the way insulin does.
The best time to take Trulicity is when you remember it. Consistency is the key.
However, if you experience nausea right after taking a dose of Trulicity, it may be helpful to eat something before injecting the medicine, but it is not necessary.
How do I know if I should stop taking Trulicity?
If the side effects of Trulicity make you feel weak and prevent you from living a normal life, tell your doctor. If you both decide to stop taking the drug, your doctor will likely reduce the dosage level over the course of a few weeks, rather than stopping everything all at once.
If you are thinking of stopping because you don’t see any improvement in your blood sugar or weight, you may want to wait. Improvements in blood sugar levels and weight loss are not immediately seen with any drug, including Trulicity.
Your doctor will probably tell you to take the drug for a few months for it to take full effect before you consider stopping it altogether.
Who shouldn’t use Trulicity?
People who are allergic to dulaglutide should not take Trulicity. People with a family or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or multiple endocrine tumors should also avoid using Trulicity.
And of course, children under the age of 18 should not take Trulicity unless prescribed by a doctor. It is also not suitable for women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor if you currently have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or gastroparesis, as Trulicity may make these conditions worse.
Trulicity is also not intended to treat pre-diabetes or type 1 diabetes.
Are there alternatives to Trulicity?
If you struggle with Trulicity, you should talk to your doctor about possible alternative medications that may cause fewer unwanted side effects.
Some alternatives to Trulicity include:
- Ozempic (semaglutide)
- Mounjaro (tirzepatide)
- Victoza (liraglutide)
- Ryebelsus (semaglutide)
- Farxiga (dapagliflozin)
- Jardiance (empagliflozin)
- Fortamet or Glumetza (metformin)
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