Tirzepatide and the Potential Side Effects

Published

May 15, 2024

Here’s what you need to know about this medication and the potential side effects.

Tired woman working out
Tired woman working out
Tired woman working out

Losing weight can be incredibly tough for anybody. Not everyone has ample time to exercise and money to buy healthy foods. 

But the alternatives aren’t ideal either — bariatric surgery can be invasive and lifestyle changes aren’t always feasible. 

Tirzepatide helps increase insulin production for adults, which can result in side effects like loss of appetite and weight loss. However, it’s important to discuss all of the possible side effects with your healthcare provider to ensure this medication is appropriate for you. 

This article will review key information about how Tirzepatide works, the side effects of this medication, and important information to discuss with your primary care provider. Additionally, individuals who are interested in taking Tirzepatide for weight management can find detailed instructions on where to find this medication below. 

What is Tirzepatide? 

Tirzepatide is an injectable medication that combines a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist and a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).¹ The combination of GLP-1 and GIP encourages the pancreas to produce and release insulin to help blood sugar control. 

Due to its ability to reduce blood sugar levels, Tirzepatide is typically prescribed as a Type 2 Diabetes treatment. But that’s not all this medication is useful for. Recently, healthcare providers have noticed significant weight loss in patients taking once-weekly Tirzepatide.¹ This has led to off-label use for weight management patients. 

Bottle of compounded Tirzepatide

If you’re hoping to receive Tirzepatide for weight loss, Henry Meds offers injectable Compounded Tirzepatide. To find out if you’re eligible for this weight management treatment, all you need to do is schedule an appointment with a provider on the Henry Meds platform and complete a medical history form. 

The Role of Insulin In The Human Body 

Before we can discuss the potential side effects of Tirzepatide, it’s important to understand exactly why insulin production is so crucial for healthy bodies. 

Imagine a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. This dish is rich, filling, and also high in carbohydrates. As the food travels through your digestive system, the body begins to break it down and create glucose. Since pasta noodles are high in carbohydrates, they will digest quickly, leaving your body with a lot of glucose.² 

After your meal, the body then triggers insulin production. Insulin comes in to trigger the skeletal muscle cells, fat cells, and other targeted areas to absorb the glucose, which lowers blood sugar levels.³ However, not everyone’s body produces enough insulin to absorb the glucose. When this happens, extra glucose is converted into fats and stored throughout the body, leading to weight gain. 

How Insulin Helps Digest Food

The problem occurs when you have long periods of high blood sugar, otherwise known as hyperglycemia. Without medical care, maintaining these high levels can severely damage your eyes, nerves, and other organs.⁴

That’s why medications like Tirzepatide are important; this drug can assist with weight loss and lowering blood sugar. Tirzepatide is not available to all patients with Diabetes Mellitus, only individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. People with prediabetes and weight management concerns may be eligible for Tirzepatide or other GLP-1 medications.¹

Side Effects of Tirzepatide 

Tirzepatide has great benefits for Type 2 Diabetes, but are there any adverse effects to this medication? 

Here we’ll review the common side effects, like weight loss, gastrointestinal issues, and other adverse reactions. 

#1: Gastrointestinal Issues 

Gastrointestinal side effects are one of the most common issues reported by patients taking Tirzepatide. As your Tirzepatide dosage increases, the likelihood of abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal issues also increases.⁵

In a study that investigated common side effects of Tirzepatide, 39% of participants taking 5mg of Tirzepatide reported GI issues. Unfortunately, as the dosage increased, GI issues also increased — 49% of people on 15mg of Tirzepatide indicated they experienced abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea while taking the medication.⁵ 

The providers on the Henry Meds platform offer Compounded Tirzepatide, a medication produced in FDA-licensed and state Board of Pharmacy compounding facilities. All of the ingredients for Compound Tirzepatide come from FDA-licensed facilities and are created under specific orders from healthcare professionals. Therefore, potential GI issues can vary depending on your individual dosage and health history. Find out more about Henry Med’s Compounded Tirzepatide.

Individual Holding Lower Abdomen

Since gastrointestinal issues can be common with Tirzepatide medication, individuals with a history of severe gastrointestinal disease or gastroparesis should speak to their provider about the health benefits (and potential side effects) before taking this medication.⁶

#2: Hypoglycemia 

Insulin-stimulating medications, like Tirzepatide, have the potential to cause low blood sugar, otherwise known as hypoglycemia.⁷

Your primary care provider can help you easily manage developing mild hypoglycemia on Tirzepatide. But it’s the rare cases of severe hypoglycemia that need immediate treatment. 

Severe hypoglycemia features dangerous symptoms, such as tremors, heart palpitations, convulsions, and loss of consciousness. The body and the brain need glucose to carry out normal, everyday bodily functions, which makes maintaining long periods of low blood sugar levels life-threatening.⁷

Since there are two different hormones within Tirzepatide medication (GLP-1 and GIP), when you take this medication with additional treatments (especially other diabetic medications), the risk for hypoglycemia increases.¹ 

The Difference Between Hyper and Hypoglycemia

If you are currently taking sulfonylureas (another diabetes drug) or another form of insulin therapy, be sure to check your blood sugar levels often and treat hypoglycemia immediately.¹ 

With proper medication management, positive communication with your provider, and frequent blood sugar testing, you can avoid developing severe cases of hypoglycemia. 

#3: Reduced Appetite and Weight Loss 

Diabetes Mellitus is an umbrella term for various types of diabetes, including gestational diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, neonatal diabetes, and more.⁸

While many of these types of diabetes are diagnosed upon birth, pregnancy, or at an early age, Type 2 Diabetes can develop at any age, especially for individuals who struggle with their weight or those who have family members with diabetes. 

Consuming high-calorie foods over a long period of time and maintaining a high body mass (BMI) can cause insulin resistance, which decreases your insulin production and increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes.³ ⁹

But Type 2 Diabetes can go into remission with appropriate treatment. This results in weight loss, making medications like Tirzepatide, which helps with weight management, essential for treating this disease. 

A recent study examined the off-label effects of Tirzepatide on participants who were not diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, none of these participants used weight loss drugs or had bariatric surgery, but all of them had a BMI over 27 (overweight range).¹⁰

It was important to include these factors in the study so that the researchers could truly examine the weight loss potential of Tirzepatide. Individuals who have had bariatric surgery cannot physically eat as much as individuals who have not. Additionally, people who are being treated for Type 2 Diabetes might be working on managing their weight as a part of their treatment plan, which could factor into their overall weight loss. 

Before examining the results of this study, it’s important to note that Henry Meds only offers Compounded Tirzepatide for chronic weight management and not for treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Since Compounded Tirzepatide is created in state Board of Pharmacy or FDA-licensed compounding facilities based on a patient’s individual health needs, an individual’s weight loss while using Compounded Tirzepatide may vary.

Each participant received dietitian counseling, a recommendation of 500 fewer calories in their diet, and 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Participants within the experimental group also received 5mg, 10mg, or 15mg of Tirzepatide weekly. 

Weight Loss After 72 Weeks

After 72 weeks of intervention, the experimental group receiving Tirzepatide lost a significant amount of their body weight. Here are the results:¹⁰

  • 5mg of Tirzepatide lost 15% of body weight

  • 10mg of Tirzepatide lost 19.5% of body weight

  • 15mg of Tirzepatide lost 20.9% of body weight

The control group, who only received dietary counseling and 2.5 hours of exercise weekly, lost 3.1% of their body weight.¹⁰

Given the control group’s results, Tirzepatide delivered significant weight loss opportunities to participants. This is no surprise; Tirzepatide has been shown to reduce an individual’s appetite while increasing insulin production, causing increased weight loss for participants. 

The providers on the Henry Meds platform offer Compounded Tirzepatide, which may provide different results from the medication used in this study. Find out more about the Compounded Tirzepatide available through Henry Meds

#4: Rare Side Effects of Tirzepatide 

Before taking Tirzepatide, it’s essential to discuss all  possible side effects with your provider. The following side effects are rare when taking Tirzepatide, but can occur, especially if you have a medical history involving these possible issues:¹ 

  • Acute pancreatitis: Severe abdominal pain resulting from an inflamed pancreas

  • Renal issues: Can occur in patients with chronic dehydration

  • Hepatobiliary: Inflamed gallbladder (cholecystitis) and gallstones (cholelithiasis)

  • Dermatologic problems: Intense reaction to areas injected with the needle

  • Diabetic retinopathy: Increased risk for disorders that affect eye health¹¹

While rare, if you are concerned about the side effects of your medication, seek medical treatment immediately. 

Important Information to Discuss With Your Healthcare Provider 

Tirzapatide is an injectable, once-a-week medication. When you are approved for Tirzepatide medication, your healthcare provider will give you in-depth information regarding administration instructions and possible side effects of the medication. 

It’s important to ask your questions during this appointment so that you understand when to take your Tirzepatide medication and which adverse events require medical attention. 

GIP and GLP-1 medications delay gastric emptying, which can impact the effectiveness of oral pills in the digestive system.⁶ If you are currently taking oral medication, you should discuss their possible interactions with Tirzepatide. 

Additionally, if you are taking oral hormonal contraception, you should discuss other birth control options with your healthcare provider. Tirzepatide has been shown to weaken hormonal birth control during the first four weeks of administration.⁶ 

If you increase your Tirzepatide dosage, hormonal birth control will be weakened for an additional four weeks. This could result in eight possible weeks of weakened birth control if you are raised to 5mg of Tirzepatide — longer if you need a higher dosage. 

Similar to hormonal birth control, Tirzepatide has also been shown to decrease the effectiveness of acetaminophen for the first four weeks when taken together.⁶

Individuals who have a family history of cancer, specifically thyroid cancer or medullary thyroid carcinoma, should not take Tirzepatide.⁶ Please disclose your entire medical history to your healthcare provider before filling a G1P-1 prescription. 

Where to Find Tirzepatide Medication for Weight Loss 

Are you interested in using Tirzepatide for weight management treatment? You’re not alone. In fact, some medical professionals have begun prescribing off-label Tirzepatide for treating obesity and for weight management purposes.

Unfortunately, Type 2 Diabetes medications like Tirzepatide are currently in shortage according to the FDA — meaning you might struggle to find this prescription medication for off-label weight management use.¹² That’s how compounded prescriptions can help close the gap.

Compounded Tirzepatide is offered to subscribers under the medical attention of providers on the Henry Meds platform. Compounded medications available through Henry Meds, like Tirzepatide, are specially made in state Boards of Pharmacy or FDA-licensed compounding facilities for each individual following their healthcare provider’s instructions. 

If you’re interested in Compounded Tirzepatide for weight loss, consult with a provider on the Henry Meds platform to determine whether you’re a good candidate for chronic weight management treatment. 

Individual Working Out

After an initial video visit, review of your medical history, and approval by a healthcare provider, patients can receive weight management drugs, like Compounded Tirzepatide, for $449 a month. No insurance required! 

Without insurance coverage, individuals can expect to pay $1,023.04 for the name-brand medication.¹³ If you are approved for a Compounded Tirzepatide treatment plan through Henry Meds, you’ll only pay $449 a month, so you can save money and meet your weight loss goals. 

Discuss Your Weight Management Options with Henry Meds Today! 

If you’re looking for weight loss medications, but are struggling to find a provider and receive insurance approval, check out Henry Meds

Our platform connects you with potential providers who examine your medical history to determine if you’re eligible for Tirzepatide weight management treatment. While Tirzepatide is a great treatment for off-label weight loss, it’s essential to review the potential side effects you might experience while taking this medication. 

The Henry Meds process is simple: select a program, your location, and preferred appointment time. After entering your subscription information and  filling out a medical history form, you’ll receive a link for a video consultation with a provider on the Henry Meds platform. If you’re medically eligible for weight management treatment, you can receive Compounded Tirzapatide delivered straight to your door for $449 a month!

Please note: Henry Meds does not offer Mounjaro® or Zepbound®, which are only available from the Eli Lilly company. Compounded Tirzepatide is a patient-specific medication created in a state Board of Pharmacy or FDA-licensed compounding facility per a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional. Compounded drugs are required to exclusively use ingredients from FDA-licensed facilities, and test sterile compounds for potency, sterility, and purity. While compounded drugs are legal they do not undergo pre-market approval from the FDA as they are not made in large batches for the public, compounds are made based on specific orders from a medical professional. Because of that the dose, route of administration, safety, and efficacy may differ from commercially available, brand-name, drugs. Henry Meds exclusively works with licensed sterile compounding pharmacies in the United States. 

To help you trust the information we provide, every article written by Henry relies on peer-reviewed studies and medically-reviewed facts. We ensure that data, ideas, and figures cited are reliable, current, and accurate. Our team of medical reviewers aim to help you cut through the noise with clear and authoritative primary and secondary sources.

Nothing in this article is intended to be prescriptive or medical advice. Talk to your doctor before starting a new diet and exercise plan. Information presented is about our medically supervised weight management programs and is not an advertisement for a specific drug.

Sources

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  6. Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) Injection. (n.d.-b). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2022/215866s000lbl.pdf 

  7. Nakhleh, A., & Shehadeh, N. (2021). Hypoglycemia in diabetes: An update on pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention. World journal of diabetes, 12(12), 2036–2049. https://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v12.i12.2036 

  8. Sapra, A., & Bhandari, P. (2023). Diabetes. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31855345/ 

  9. Freeman, A. M., Acevedo, L. A., & Pennings, N. (2023). Insulin Resistance. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29939616/ 

  10. Jastreboff, A. M., Aronne, L. J., Ahmad, N. N., Wharton, S., Connery, L., Alves, B., Kiyosue, A., Zhang, S., Liu, B., Bunck, M. C., Stefanski, A., & SURMOUNT-1 Investigators. (2022). Tirzepatide Once Weekly for the Treatment of Obesity. The New England journal of medicine, 387(3), 205–216. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2206038 

  11. Shukla, U. V., & Tripathy, K. (2023). Diabetic Retinopathy. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32809640/ 

  12. FDA drug shortages. (2023). FDA Drug Shortages. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/dsp_ActiveIngredientDetails.cfm?AI=Tirzepatide+Injection&st=c 

  13. Mounjaro cost information. Mounjaro Cost Information | With or Without Insurance | Mounjaro® (tirzepatide) injection. (n.d.). https://www.lillypricinginfo.com/mounjaro 

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