Tirzepatide vs Semaglutide Side Effects: A Comparison

In this article, we will closely examine the differences in side effects between Tirzepatide and Semaglutide, two medications used to manage type 2 diabetes. We will discuss the mild tosevere side effects of both medications and delve into the frequency and severity of these side effects.
Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the
University of Oxford.

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Side effects of tirzepatide vs semaglutide

Tirzepatide and semaglutide are medications used to manage type 2 diabetes, and they work similarly. Both drugs mimic the activity of Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), meaning they have similar side effects. In addition to mimicking GLP-1, tirzepatide also mimics the actions of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), making it a dually acting synthetic peptide [1].

Common and mild side effects of tirzepatide vs semaglutide

Both tirzepatide and semaglutide are injected under the skin, making bruising after injection a common side effect after both tirzepatide and semaglutide.

Common side effects of both medications include constipation or diarrhoea, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, headaches, abdominal pain, fatigue, and low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) [2]. The frequency of these side effects was comparable, ranging from 6-20%, in both tirzepatide and semaglutide in a head-to-head open-label study [3].

Moderate to severe side effects of tirzepatide vs semaglutide

Severe adverse events are more serious side effects or drug-related health complications. Severe adverse events, including pancreatic problems, were reported in both medications. [3].

Both tirzepatide and semaglutide have a risk of leading to thyroid tumours, which is a very serious side effect and can only be observed at longer time scales [2].

Indications of tirzepatide vs semaglutide

Unlike semaglutide, tirzepatide is only approved for use in type 2 diabetes and not weight loss [4, 5, 6]. If tirzepatide were to be introduced in patients without type 2 diabetes, the side effects may change. However, in type 2 diabetes, tirzepatide was found to be more effective than semaglutide at managing blood sugar, which is impressive given the widespread acceptability of semaglutide in diabetes treatment [3].

Summary: tirzepatide vs semaglutide side effects

To summarise, the side effects of tirzepatide and semaglutide are very similar. There were very few differences in the types of side effects, their frequency and severity, although tirzepatide may have different side effects when used outside of type 2 diabetes care. Critically, always make sure to consult your healthcare professional, as both drugs are only available upon prescription for type 2 diabetes or severe obesity in the case of semaglutide.

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Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is a postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. She has worked across a spectrum of hot topics in neuroscience, including her current project measuring reinforcement learning strategies in Parkinson’s disease. Previously, she studied the efficacy of psilocybin as a therapy for critical mental health conditions and examined molecular circadian rhythms of migraine disorders. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and participated in a year abroad at the University of California, where she worked on a clinical trial for spinal cord injury.