Side Effects From Weight Loss Drugs Seniors Should Know About

Side Effects From Weight Loss Drugs Seniors Should Know About

 January 24, 2024

A close up of pills and tape with a bottle

It seems like everyone is talking about the latest round of weight-loss drugs these days. Seniors who are overweight are probably curious about these medications. It’s true that doctors often prescribe weight loss medication for seniors that are overweight or who have diabetes. For seniors, being overweight significantly raises the risk of serious health problems.

But, seniors that are interested in weight-loss drugs should always talk to their doctor about the side effects these medications can have. Some of the latest weight loss medications that are being promoted by celebrities can have serious side effects, some of which can make existing health problems worse.

If your senior parent is interested in talking to their doctor about weight loss drugs you should take them to the appointment to discuss these drugs or have a senior home care provider take them. If you can’t be at the appointment, it’s good to have a senior home care provider there to take notes about what the doctor says about the side effect risk of weight loss medications.

Gastrointestinal Issues

One common side effect of weight loss medications, including those used for diabetes, is gastrointestinal discomfort. Seniors may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and other serious problems for seniors.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Today’s weight loss medications work by helping the body use insulin more effectively, which can lead to improved blood sugar control. However, this may increase the risk of hypoglycemia, especially when combined with other diabetes medications. Seniors should be aware of symptoms of low blood sugar, including dizziness, confusion, sweating, and weakness, and get medical help immediately if they experience any of these symptoms.


Sometimes weight loss medications can raise a senior’s risk of pancreatitis. Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Seniors should seek immediate medical attention if they experience persistent abdominal discomfort.

Thyroid C-Cell Tumors

Weight loss drugs may increase the risk of Thyroid C-Cell tumors. Long term effects of these medications are still being studied. Because seniors have an increased risk of cancer just due to their age, this increased risk should be considered when seniors are thinking about starting weight loss drugs.


Some weight loss medications may contribute to dehydration, which is something may seniors already struggle with. Dehydration can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, dry mouth, and decreased urine output. Seniors will need to drink more water if they start taking weight loss medication.

Problems With Kidney Function

Weight loss drugs may cause problems with kidney function, and seniors with pre-existing kidney conditions should be closely monitored. Seniors who have kidney disease or who have had a kidney transplant may not be good candidates for weight loss drugs.

Decreased Liver Function

Weight loss drugs can affect how the liver functions. If your senior parent has had trouble with liver function or they have liver disease weight loss medication may not be right for them.

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