Medicines for weight loss

Did you know that medications are used for weight loss? But medicine is recommended to help with other weight loss management strategies such as diet and lifestyle changes. While these medications are effective, they have some side effects too.  

Keep reading this article to learn more about the medications for weight loss.  

Obesity is one of the most common problems in the world. People love processed food more than natural fruits and vegetables. More than 2 out of 5 adults and 1 out of 5 children have obesity. Obesity is a chronic disease that stores excessive fats in the body which leads to other severe chronic complications. These complications are – type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, strokes, certain types of cancers, sleep apnea, or digestive problems.  

To prevent these complications, you need to manage your weight. The doctor recommends weight loss surgery or techniques such as diet and lifestyle changes, good quality sleep, avoiding drinking alcohol, or quitting smoking. However, this is the main treatment for weight loss, but you can take the help of some medications. But doctors prescribe medication based on your health history because these medications have some side effects.   

Weight loss medications 

Weight loss medications can help to lose weight fast, reduce your hunger and make your body absorb less fat from your diet. These medications are effective with other weight management strategies. However, these medications are not for everyone, and their effects also disappear over time. 

Medication is prescribed to those people who BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or above or have a BMI of 27 with a weight-related risk factor such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, etc. Doctors first examine their medical history to make sure that they don’t develop side effects from medications.  

These are the medications that are used for weight loss, including: 

  • Bupropion-naltrexone  
  • Liraglutide  
  • Orlistat 
  • Phentermine-topiramate  
  • Phentermine 
  • Semaglutide   

1. Bupropion-naltrexone:  

Other names: This medicine is also known as Contrave.  

Uses: This medicine is a combination of two drugs bupropion and naltrexone. The bupropion drug is used to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder and to help people stop drinking alcohol. The naltrexone drug is used to treat and remove alcohol and opioid dependence.  

Dosage: You can take this medicine in the form of a pill, one in the morning and one in the evening. The dose should not be more than 32mg or 360 mg per day. You can take this medicine after meals.  

Effects: It helps to lose weight and reduce your alcohol intake. It helps to manage your stress and depression. But if you are not able to lose 5% of weight in 12 weeks while consuming this medicine your doctor might stop this medication because it is not effective for you.  

Side effects: These are the side effects you can develop:  

  • Headache 
  • Constipation 
  • Vomiting  
  • Dizziness 
  • Insomnia 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Seizures 
  • High blood pressure or heart rate

 2. Liraglutide:  

Other names: It is also known as Saxenda.  

Uses: It mimics the intestine hormone to tell the brain that the stomach is full.  

Dosage: In the beginning, 0.6mg is given any time of the day by injection. Then, the dose is increased weekly by 0.6mg regularly until it reaches 3mg per day.  

Effects: It helps to reduce your diet. However, if you don’t lose 4% of weight in 16 weeks of taking this medicine, then it means it is not effective for you and you should stop taking this medicine. 

Side effects: These are the side effects that you might develop: 

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Pancreatitis and gallbladder disease 
  • Kidney problems  
  • Suicidal thoughts.  

3. Orlistat:  

Other names: It is also known as Xenical. 

Uses: It blocks the ability of the body to absorb fat from your food. As a result, you can absorb only a third of the fat from your diet.  

Dosage: You can take this medicine 3 times a day after meals if you eat food that contains fats. Otherwise, you can skip this.  

Effects: It helps to reduce body fat. Take this medicine when you eat a low-fat diet to get better results. And you should eat multivitamins at least 2 hours before taking orlistat because this drug makes it harder for the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.  

Side effects: These are the side effects you notice, including: 

  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Passing gas 
  • Leaking gas stool 
  • Not able to control bowel movements or have more bowel movements. 
  •  Liver damage, in rare cases.  

Its symptoms are rare and temporary, but it gets worse if you eat high-fat foods. 

4. Phentermine-topiramate:  

Other names: It is also known as Qsymia.  

Uses: This medicine is a combination of two drugs phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine helps to reduce seizures and migraine. Topiramate helps to make you feel full, food tastes less and burns more calories.  

Dosage: Adults and children of age 12 or older can take one pill of 3.75mg of phentermine and 23mg of topiramate once a day for 14 days. After 14 days, the doctor increases your dose from 3.75 to 7.5 mg of phentermine and 46mg of topiramate once a day.  

Effects: It helps to reduce weight by making you feel full or making the food tasteless. However, if you don’t lose 3% of weight after 12 weeks then your doctor increases the dose for the next 12 weeks but if it doesn’t produce results then you should stop taking it.  

Side effects: These are the side effects you might develop with this medicine:  

  • Tingling in hands and feet 
  • Dizziness 
  • Altered sense of taste 
  • Insomnia 
  • Constipation 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Eyes problems 
  • Faster heart rate 
  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Heart disease or stroke 

  5. Phentermine: 

Other names: It is also known as Adipex and Suprenza.  

Uses: It helps to curb your appetite.  

Dosage: You can take one tablet in the morning with or without eating breakfast.  

Effects:  It helps to manage your diet when you follow the instruction of the doctor for your weight loss.  

Side Effects: These are the side effects you can experience: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Restlessness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Tremor 
  • Insomnia 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain 
  • Trouble in performing activities 
  • Dry mouth  
  • Unpleasant taste 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation  
  • Vomiting 

It is a drug that makes you addicted to it, so only take it when the doctor prescribes it.  

6. Semaglutide 

Other names: Doctors call it Wegovy.  

Uses: It helps in insulin production, lowers your appetite, and makes you feel full.  

Dosage: The dosage is given once a week in the form of an injection. The dose depends on your medical conditions and according to your treatment plan.  

Effects: It helps to avoid developing type 2 diabetes complications and lowers your diet to help you reduce weight. Note that, if you cease taking this medicine it can lead to regaining the weight you lose.  

Side effects:  These are the side effects:  

  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Vomiting  
  • Constipation 
  • Passing gas 
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue 
  • Gastro reflux 
  • Pancreatic disease 
  • Severe stomach pain 

Tips for weight loss medications 

If you are planning to take weight loss medications, then follow these tips to get satisfactory results: 

  • Before starting weight management medications ask the health care provider to make a plan to take medication. 
  • Make sure you purchase your medicine from a pharmacy or online distributor which is approved by the health care provider.  
  • Take weight management medication that supports your diet or lifestyle plan.  
  • Keep in mind the side effects and warning signs of the medication. 
  • Avoid taking these medications during pregnancy or if you are planning for a pregnancy.  
  • Ask your health care provider if you should consider continuing other medications that you are taking such as supplements and vitamins while taking weight management medications.  
  • If you did not lose weight in 12 weeks with the medications you take, then ask the doctor to stop the medication from your plan.  

Weight loss management medications are useful when used with other treatment plans including diet and lifestyle plans. Ask the doctor first before you start taking them. While using them, keep in mind the side effects of that medication so that if you have side effects you can ask the doctor how to remove them from your weight management plan.  

Want to know more about other treatments for weight loss? Doral Health & Wellness has a team of Bariatricians who are experts in Laparoscopic Surgery – like Gastric sleeve surgery, Gastric bypass surgery, and Sleeve Gastrectomy. Call us on 347-868-1060 to get a free consultation.  

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