Saxenda Side Effects: Weight Loss, Nausea, Diarrhea, Fatigue

Saxenda is the brand name for liraglutide, an injectable GLP-1 receptor agonist used as a weight loss medication for people aged 12 years and older.

Unlike other brand names of GLP-1 receptor agonists like Victoza, Ozempic, and Trulicity, Saxenda isn’t intended to treat type 2 diabetes and is only approved as a weight loss medication. 

This weight loss from Saxenda comes with potential risks and adverse side effects, as any medication does, which we’ll review in this article.

Keep reading to learn more about Saxenda’s side effects, how long they last, and tips to reduce them.

Common Side Effects of Saxenda (Liraglutide)

There are potential side effects and risks of taking the Saxenda injection. Some of the more common side effects are considered to be minor, meaning they aren’t likely to cause any significant health issues. 

Other potential side effects might be more serious and even life-threatening, yet these tend to be rarer.

The most commonly reported side effects of Saxenda include:


Nausea is the most common side effect of Saxenda reported in clinical trials. Eating smaller portions and avoiding spicy and rich foods can help ease the nausea caused by Saxenda treatment. 

If the nausea doesn’t go away or becomes severe, speak to your healthcare provider.


Throwing up (vomiting) is another potential side effect of Saxenda. If you experience this, make sure you drink enough fluids, such as water or ginger tea, so you don’t become dehydrated.

If your vomiting is severe, you should talk to your doctor and consider other options as Saxenda may not be suitable for you.


This adverse effect occurs in approximately 1 in 5 patients taking Saxenda. It’s important to stay hydrated to prevent dehydration. Your pharmacist could recommend rehydration salts to help.


If you’re experiencing constipation from Saxenda, be sure to stay hydrated and slowly increase your fiber intake.

Tiredness (fatigue) and dizziness

These side effects should go away as your body gets used to the medication. If you experience dizziness from Saxenda, rest until you feel better. Make sure you are eating and drinking enough, and consult your doctor if it persists. 


If you’re having headaches, make sure you stay hydrated and avoid drinking too much alcohol. Speak to your healthcare provider if your headache is severe or does not go away.

Stomach pain

Some people experience stomach pain when taking  Saxenda due to gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Eating smaller portions and eating more slowly can help.

However, severe abdominal pain should not be ignored as this can be a side effect of pancreatitis (more on that later). 

Injection site reactions

An injection site reaction includes redness, itching, bruising, swelling, or pain around the site of the injection. These should improve as your body gets used to Saxenda.

Gastroenteritis in children 

This is a short-term stomach infection that can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

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Rare adverse effects of Saxenda

While rare, there is a risk of developing more serious health problems from taking Saxenda, such as:

Allergic reactions to Saxenda or its ingredients

Signs of a drug allergy to watch out for include swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, fainting or feeling dizzy, very rapid heartbeat, problems breathing or swallowing, or severe rash or itching.

Depression or thoughts of suicide

This risk may be higher if you already have a history of depression or other mood disorders.

Gallbladder problems

Signs of gallbladder problems to watch out for when taking Saxenda include pain in your upper abdomen, fever, yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice), or clay-colored stools.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially when taken along with sulfonylureas or insulin

Signs of low blood sugar include shakiness, sweating, headache, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, confusion, irritability, hunger, fast heartbeat, and feeling jittery. 

If you have a history of developing low blood sugar, or if you develop any of these symptoms, you should check your blood sugar and inform your healthcare provider if it’s consistently below 70 mg/dL.

Increased heart rate

The Saxenda pen can increase your resting heart rate. If you feel your heart racing or pounding for several minutes, contact your healthcare provider.

Monitor your heart rate as directed by your healthcare provider, if needed.

Increased risk of thyroid tumors (including cancer)

Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) might occur from taking Saxenda.

If you develop a lump or swelling in your neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Kidney problems due to dehydration

Persistent nausea and vomiting from Saxenda can lead to dehydration, which might cause kidney problems if it’s severe.

Kidney problems from taking Saxenda are possible even if you don’t have any history of kidney issues. 

If you’re unable to consume enough liquids to stay hydrated, contact your healthcare provider immediately.


Pancreatitis is inflammation of your pancreas, the organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. 

Signs of pancreatitis include severe pain in your stomach area that doesn’t go away, with or without vomiting. The pain might radiate from your back to your stomach as well.

Can Saxenda cause hair loss?

Hair loss is not a listed side effect of Saxenda. However, losing weight can lead to hair loss. This is more likely if you experience rapid weight loss or a nutritional deficiency. 

Can Saxeda cause hypoglycemia?

Saxenda shouldn’t cause low blood sugar on its own – especially if you’re not already taking diabetes medications like insulin or sulfonylureas. 

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Are there any long-term side effects of Saxenda injections?

If you don’t develop any of the rare side effects we just covered, then Saxenda isn’t known to cause any long-term side effects. 

However, if you do develop one of the serious side effects, you might have long-term issues depending on the severity.

In general, most side effects (even the rare ones) are treatable, and you’re not likely to have long-term side effects if the conditions resolve.

Is Saxenda a high-risk medication?

Saxenda isn’t considered a high-risk medication – but that’s not to be confused with having no risks.

A high-risk medication is considered one that has a heightened risk of causing significant harm if they are used in error. 

Some examples of high-risk medications include insulin, anticoagulants (blood thinners), narcotics, and others.

How long do Saxenda’s adverse effects last? 

The side effects of Saxenda might last several weeks until your body gets used to it. You might experience an increase in side effects after your dose is increased, which occurs in the first several weeks after you start taking Saxenda for the first time.

You should allow yourself at least a month after reaching your goal dose of Saxenda to assess if the side effects have gone away or if they persist.

Everyone is different, so you might experience persistent side effects the whole time you take Saxenda, or they might go away after a few weeks.

How to reduce the side effects of Saxenda pens

The best ways to minimize the side effects of Saxenda dosing are to take it as prescribed and to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how to increase your dose after you start taking it.

Otherwise, here are some specific ways to reduce some of the more common side effects of Saxenda.

Side effectRemedies
Nausea/vomitingEat bland foods, such as a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast).

Avoid eating high-fat foods.

Eat small mini-meals and snacks, avoiding large meals.

Stay hydrated to prevent dehydration.

Suck on popsicles or sip sports drinks if you’re unable to eat or drink much. This can help prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
ConstipationIncrease fluid intake.

Stay active.

Eat fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Avoid eating large amounts of meat and dairy, which may be constipating in large amounts.
DiarrheaEat a low-fiber diet (the opposite of what you’d do for constipation).

Stay hydrated to prevent dehydration; consider taking electrolytes if diarrhea is severe.

Who should not take Saxenda medication?

You should not take Saxenda if you:

  • Have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma, or you have an endocrine disorder called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
  • Have had an allergic reaction to Saxenda or any of its ingredients.
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

You’ll want to discuss if Saxenda medication is right for you if you:

  • Are breastfeeding.
  • Have a history of pancreas, liver, and/or gallbladder problems.
  • Are taking other GLP-1 receptor agonist medication.
  • Have a history of depression or thoughts of suicide.
  • Have gastroparesis (slowed stomach emptying).

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Are there any side effects of stopping Saxenda?

The most likely side effect of stopping Saxenda is that any rate of Saxenda weight loss might slow or stop. Some people even gain weight after they stop taking Saxenda.

Otherwise, there aren’t side effects of stopping your Saxenda dose, and any side effects you were experiencing will likely start to go away.


Saxenda can cause common side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, among others. These side effects typically lessen in severity as your body gets used to the medication, but in some people, they might persist the entire time you take the medication.

Rarely, some serious risks of taking your Saxenda dosage include thyroid tumors, pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, and kidney problems.

Saxenda is meant to be used in combination with healthy lifestyle habits, like working on healthier eating habits and being physically active

Using Saxenda with healthy lifestyle habits can set you up for even more success than relying on the medication alone.

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