Weight loss injections
The Saxenda Injection is used as an aid for people needing to lose weight. Containing liraglutide, the injection reduces the patients appetite and assists with weight loss.
Saxenda is a prescription-only medication which can be used as a weight loss aid for anyone who is overweight, alongside regular exercise and a healthy diet. Saxenda comes in the form of a preloaded, injectable pen that is very easy to use, and it contains the active ingredient liraglutide.
The liraglutide in Saxenda mimics a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1, which is released by our intestines after a meal to let the brain know that the body is full. By replicating this process, Saxenda tells the brain not to eat anymore, allowing the person taking it to feel satisfied after eating less food and so reduce their body weight.
Who can take Saxenda?
You could consider using Saxenda if you are unhappy with your weight and are classified as medically obese or overweight. The easiest way to work out whether this applies to you is to calculate your BMI. Using an online calculator, input your height and weight, and the number generated is your BMI.
A healthy BMI number is anything between 18 and 25. However, your doctor is unlikely to prescribe Saxenda unless you have a BMI of 30 or over (and so are obese), or if you have a BMI of 27+ and have other conditions which are weight related (such as diabetes or high blood pressure).
There are a few people who shouldn’t take Saxenda, though. If you’re under the age of 18 or over the age of 75, you should avoid the medication. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding should steer clear of Saxenda too, as it can have unpleasant effects on babies. You also shouldn’t use Saxenda if you have severe heart failure, serious gut problems, inflammatory bowel disease, or if you are allergic to liraglutide.
Saxenda is only available through prescription, and you should make sure to tell your doctor about any pre-existing conditions or other medications you are on before you begin taking Saxenda. In particular, make sure your doctor knows if you suffer from diabetes, pancreatic disease, liver problems, kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis), or thyroid disease, including thyroid nodules and enlargement of the thyroid gland.
If you are diabetic, make sure you don’t use Saxenda as a replacement for insulin, and take extra care to look out for symptoms of low blood sugar when taking Saxenda. These can come on very suddenly and include cold sweat, pale skin, headaches, increased heart rate, feeling very hungry, changes in vision, feeling sleepy and weak, feeling nervous, anxious or confused, difficulty concentrating and shaking/tremors.
How to take Saxenda
Our pharmacist will advise exactly how, when and how much Saxenda to take, and you should follow their directions as closely as possible. As a rough guide, you’ll usually start by taking a lower dose of the medication, then gradually build up to the max over the first five weeks of your course.
Generally, you’ll start by taking 0.6mg once a day for a week, then increase by 0.6mg each week until you’re taking the maximum dosage of 3.0mg a day. The pen comes preloaded with the solution, and you can easily change the amount you’re taking by using the dial on it.
You’ll be shown how to use the pen when you first start taking Saxenda, and should try to avoid injecting it into muscles or veins; instead, choose the front of your abdomen, around your waist area, your upper arm, or front of your thigh. You can take it with or without food and at anytime of day, although you should aim to take it at roughly the same time each day.
Before you use it for the first time, you should store your Saxenda pen in the fridge, but never in the freezer. It should last a month when kept below 30°C, but make sure you use it before the expiry date on the pack. When you aren’t using the pen, keep the cap on to avoid light from damaging the solution, and don’t use it if the liquid in the pen isn’t clear and colourless.
Alongside Saxenda, your doctor will likely recommend a diet plan and exercise regime to encourage weight loss. Try to follow their suggestions to maximise your weight loss. This is especially important as you will need to lose at least 5% of your body within three months of reaching the max dose to continue using Saxenda.
Side effects and other interactions
Losing a great deal of weight in a short space of time can mean you are at risk of developing gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder. If you experience severe pain in your upper abdomen, which is usually worse on the right side under the ribs or travels up and into your right shoulder, contact your doctor immediately. Similarly, speak to them if you begin having heart palpitations while taking Saxenda, or if you become dehydrated.
Like most medicines, Saxenda has a low chance of causing mild side effects. The most commonly experienced effects are feeling or being sick, and diarrhea, which usually go away within the first couple of weeks. In some cases, you may experience excessive flatulence, bloating, dizziness (in which case you should avoid driving), feeling weak or tired, insomnia, or a changed sense of taste. You may also notice irritation or bruising around the site of the injection.
Rarely, Saxenda can cause more severe side effects. If you experience any signs of allergic reaction, or any more serious symptoms, including severe and persistent pain in your abdomen, speak to a doctor immediately.
Saxenda can interact negatively with some other medications, so it’s important to tell your doctor if you are taking any other drugs before they prescribe Saxenda. Make sure your doctor knows if you take warfarin or any other, oral anticoagulants, as you may need more frequent blood tests, or if you are diabetic and take medicine that falls into the sulfonylurea category, as the dose of your medication may need to be adjusted to prevent low blood sugar.
Once the medication has been prescribed and the max dose has been reached, the patient must lose at least 5% of their body weight within 3 months, or treatment may be stopped.
Week 1 – Inject 0.6mg daily
Week 2 – Inject 1.2mg daily
Week 3 – Inject 1.8mg daily
Week 4 – Inject 2.4mg daily
Week 5 – Inject 3mg daily (this is a maintenance dose up to 12 weeks)
Price: Small charge
Frequency: When required...
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