Managing the Side Effects of Trulicity

Managing the Side Effects of Trulicity

Trulicity is a prescription drug given to patients with type-2 diabetes or cardiovascular conditions. It helps lower blood glucose levels and reduces the risk of a heart attack. Still, it’s a medication that comes with side effects you need to watch out for and manage. In this post, we will talk about the common side effects of Trulicity and ways to manage them.

The Side Effects of Trulicity and How to Manage Them

Ultimately, the side effects of Trulicity vary for each person, and their presence doesn’t mean it’s a bad medication. Side effects are expected, and can be managed depending on the level of severity. On that note, here are some of the side effects that are common with Trulicity.

1. Localized Reaction at the Injection Site

Trulicity comes as a liquid solution inside a disposable injection pen. It is given once a week subcutaneously. While the route of administration is not much of a problem, it is worth noting that prolonged puncturing of the skin using injection needles may lead to:

  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Fatty deposits
  • Lumps
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Rashes

So just as when taking insulin shots, rotating sites is advised to avoid overusing one. Doctors usually advise injecting Trulicity into the abdomen, arms, or thighs.

Important: Taking Trulicity with insulin is contraindicated. This means they should never be mixed or injected on the same site. Ensure a few inches of space in between if injecting in the same area.

2. Allergic or Hypersensitivity Reaction to the Drug

A hypersensitive reaction, mild or severe, demands that you stop taking the drug immediately, and an allergic reaction to Trulicity is no exception.

Head to the emergency room or call 911 right away for any life-threatening symptoms. The common allergic reactions to Trulicity manifest as one or more of the following:

  • Swelling of the hands, feet, lips, mouth, tongue, throat, or eyelids
  • Severe rashes
  • Skin flushing (warmth and redness)
  • Extremely fast heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Itchiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty swallowing

Important: Remember to store new and unused Trulicity pens or prefilled syringes in the refrigerator—not in the freezer, as this will cause the medication to degrade. Note that it should not be used frozen. Keep it in the original box to protect it from light. Once opened or used, keep it at room temperature to last for up to 14 days.

3. Weight Gain or Loss

Weight loss comes as a secondary endpoint of blood sugar control. However, with Trulicity, some gain or lose weight and others do not experience any change at all.

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes and obesity, the weight loss side effect may come as a benefit. But, if you’re already below the normal basal metabolic index for your size, it is advisable to talk to your doctor about dosage adjustment or an alternative drug.

4. Frequent Hypoglycemia

Since Trulicity is meant to lower blood sugar levels, timing its use with meal and snack time is important. As per its manufacturers, it is best taken before meals, but doctors may still prescribe it with a condition-specific schedule. Consult your physician on dosage times.

As for the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar you need to watch out for and need to tell your doctor about, they include:

  • Cold sweating
  • Hunger
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Feeling jittery
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability

If you notice any of these symptoms after injecting Trulicity, consume some form of simple sugar immediately. A spoonful of sugar, candy, fruit juice, soft drink, or glucose tablets should work. When you feel better, eat a complex carbohydrate, like bread or a sandwich, to keep you from experiencing low blood sugar again.

Most importantly, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away for dosage adjustment or to get medical advice on preventing hypoglycemia from happening.

5. Nausea and Digestion Problems

Nausea is expected to happen in the first two to three days after the first dose of Trulicity. There are times when indigestion, vomiting, severe stomach pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and decreased appetite also happen. Such adverse digestive effects generally subside after two weeks and rarely do patients need to stop taking the drug because of them.

Still, it helps to opt for bland foods (like high-fiber rice, crackers, and toast), avoid fatty or fried foods, and eat smaller meals to keep you from feeling nauseous.

6. Thyroid Cancer

Trulicity has a boxed warning for thyroid cancer, specifically T-cell tumors. This type of warning is the most serious based on FDA standards.

A lump in the neck, hoarseness of voice, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing are symptoms that may indicate the presence of a tumor. Inform your doctor straight away if you experience any of these.

Important: Trulicity should not be taken by people with a preexisting type of thyroid cancer, especially multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 and medullary thyroid carcinoma.

7. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a debatable side effect and contraindication for Trulicity. There are post-marketing reports and clinical trials that suggest it happened after patients took dulaglutide. However, some studies do not have conclusive evidence.

With that said, pancreatitis is listed in the package insert as an adverse reaction. Immediate cessation of medication is advised if it is suspected. Here are the symptoms to watch out for:

  • Severe abdominal pain that radiates to the back
  • Fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Understanding the Side Effects of Trulicity

This list is only meant to create awareness for proper immediate intervention and does not give non-health practitioners the license to self-diagnose or medicate. Professional advice and action should always be sought. See your doctor and discuss possible alternatives or dosage adjustments.

If you haven’t started on Trulicity and are about to, make sure to ask about important points such as schedule of intake, injection sites, timing and interactions with other type 2 diabetes drugs, proper storage, dosing, and home interventions for expected adverse reactions.

Got your Trulicity prescription? Avoid the lines and fill your stock when you shop online at PharmaServe today!

Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS is a practicing clinical pharmacist that works in primary care. He supports other members of the healthcare team including physicians, mid-level providers, nurses, and other clinical staff. He also likes to use his drug knowledge to inform his patients and the public about the benefits and risks they can expect from their medications. His clinical specialties include: anticoagulation, diabetes management, and psychiatric care.

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