Trulicity’s Side Effects: What to Know
Trulicity has a boxed warning for a possible risk of thyroid cancer. This is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For details, see the “ Trulicity: Side effects explained” section below.
Trulicity is a brand-name prescription drug. It’s a type of medication called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It contains the active drug dulaglutide.
Trulicity comes as a solution inside prefilled injection pens. It’s given by subcutaneous injection.
Trulicity is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes. Doctors typically prescribe Trulicity for long-term use to:
- help manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes, when used in combination with diet and exercise
- help lower the risk of heart problems in adults with type 2 diabetes and either:
- cardiovascular disease, or
- a risk factor for cardiovascular disease
Similar to other drugs, Trulicity may cause adverse events (side effects). Read below for information about possible side effects, including common, mild, and serious ones.
For a general overview of Trulicity, including details about its uses, see this article.
If you’d like to take Trulicity, search here to find a healthcare professional who might prescribe it.
Some of Trulicity’s side effects may be more common than others. These side effects may last only a few days to weeks. However, some side effects may last longer or become severe or bothersome. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns about any side effects with Trulicity.
In Trulicity’s clinical studies, these were some side effects that occurred more often:
* For more information about this side effect, see “Trulicity: Side effects explained” below.
Trulicity can cause mild side effects, which are listed below. However, this list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects. To learn more about Trulicity’s side effects, view the drug’s prescribing information.
Trulicity’s mild side effects include:
- abdominal bloating
- abdominal pain and upset stomach
- flatulence (gas)
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- loss of appetite, which may lead to weight loss
- mild constipation and diarrhea*
- injection site reactions, such as bruising, rash, and itching*
- mild nausea and vomiting*
The side effects listed above may last only a few days to weeks. However, some side effects may last longer or become severe or bothersome. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have concerns about side effects with Trulicity.
Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Trulicity and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.
* For more information about this side effect, see “Trulicity: Side effects explained” below.
It’s possible to have serious side effects with Trulicity. Serious side effects are listed below, but this list may not include all possibilities. To learn more about Trulicity’s side effects, view the drug’s prescribing information.
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects with Trulicity. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency or have life threatening side effects, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Trulicity and their possible symptoms include:
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Symptoms can include:
- Diabetic retinopathy, which is a condition affecting your eyes and vision. Symptoms can include:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level). Symptoms can include:
- Kidney problems, such as kidney failure. Symptoms can include:
- cloudy or dark urine
- frequent, painful, or urgent urination
- swelling of the ankles or feet
- Allergic reaction.*
- Severe constipation and diarrhea.*
- Severe nausea and vomiting*
- Risk of thyroid cancer.†
* To learn more about this side effect, see “Trulicity: Side effects explained” below.
† Trulicity has a
Here are some common questions about the drug’s side effects and answers to them. Talk with your doctor if you have other questions about this drug.
Does Trulicity cause joint pain, muscle pain, or hair loss?
It isn’t likely. Joint pain, muscle pain, and hair loss weren’t reported in clinical studies of Trulicity.
Keep in mind that diabetes drugs other than Trulicity can cause severe joint or muscle pain. Examples include dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, such as linagliptin (Tradjenta) and sitagliptin (Januvia).
Statin drugs, such as simvastatin (Zocor) and pitavastatin (Livalo), may also cause severe joint or muscle pain. And statins are commonly prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes.
Also, hair loss is a possible symptom of diabetes, and it may be related to blood sugar levels. Because Trulicity is used in people who have type 2 diabetes, hair loss may occur while taking the drug. However, this could be due to diabetes and not Trulicity itself.
If you’re concerned about joint or muscle pain while using Trulicity, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
And if you have hair loss while using Trulicity, talk with your doctor. They may order tests to make sure the drug is working to manage your diabetes. Your doctor can also look for other causes of hair loss and recommend possible treatments.
Will I have certain side effects from taking Trulicity and metformin or Trulicity and insulin?
Yes, it’s possible that certain side effects may be more common when Trulicity is taken with metformin or insulin.
For example, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are common side effects of both Trulicity and metformin. Your risk of these side effects may be higher when you use both Trulicity with metformin.
Additionally, your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) with Trulicity may be higher when you use the drug with insulin.
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about what to expect when Trulicity is taken with metformin or insulin.
Is weight gain a side effect of Trulicity?
Weight gain wasn’t reported as a side effect in clinical studies of Trulicity.
In fact, loss of appetite was commonly reported in studies of the drug. And this side effect could lead to weight loss.
If you’re concerned about weight gain with Trulicity, talk with your doctor. They can suggest ways to maintain a body weight that’s healthy for you while you’re using the drug. To learn about weight loss tips for diabetes, see this article.
Can Trulicity cause headaches or dizziness?
Headaches and dizziness weren’t reported as side effects in clinical studies of Trulicity.
However, Trulicity may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level). Possible symptoms of this condition include headaches and dizziness. Other symptoms of hypoglycemia include blurry vision and feeling irritable, confused, or jittery.
Before you start Trulicity, your doctor will show you how to check your blood sugar levels. They’ll also talk with you about symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to prevent or treat it.
If you have headaches or dizziness while using Trulicity, tell your doctor right away. They’ll likely ask about your blood sugar levels and whether you are having any other symptoms of hypoglycemia. If needed, your doctor will adjust your diabetes treatment plan to lower your risk of hypoglycemia.
Will I have withdrawal symptoms when stopping Trulicity or side effects from missing a dose?
It’s not likely. Withdrawal symptoms weren’t reported in clinical studies of Trulicity. (Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can happen after you stop taking a drug.)
However, keep in mind that your blood sugar levels may increase if you miss a dose of Trulicity or stop using the drug.
If you realize you’ve missed a dose of Trulicity and there are at least 3 days before your next dose is due, take your missed dose. However, if your next dose is due in less than 3 days, skip your missed dose. Then take your next dose on its usual schedule. If you aren’t sure whether to take a missed dose of Trulicity or skip it, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Before stopping Trulicity, talk with your doctor. They’ll likely prescribe a medication other than Trulicity to treat your condition. This will help you continue to manage your blood sugar levels after you stop the drug.
Does Trulicity cause long-term side effects?
Possibly. Most of Trulicity’s side effects are expected to last only a few days or weeks. However, some of the drug’s side effects may cause long-term complications.
For example, in rare cases, Trulicity may cause diabetic retinopathy (a condition affecting your eyes and vision). Severe diabetic retinopathy can cause long-term vision loss.
Using Trulicity could also increase your risk of thyroid cancer.* There currently isn’t a known cure for thyroid cancer.
If you have questions about possible long-term side effects with Trulicity, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* Trulicity has a
Here’s detailed information about some of Trulicity’s side effects.
Risk of thyroid cancer
Trulicity has a
Thyroid cancer wasn’t reported as a side effect in human studies of Trulicity. Animal studies have shown that Trulicity may increase this risk. However, animal studies don’t always predict what happens in humans.
Due to the possible risk of thyroid cancer, doctors typically won’t prescribe Trulicity for people who:
- have a family history or personal history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), which is a rare type of thyroid cancer
- have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), which is a rare genetic (inherited) condition that may cause thyroid cancer
Possible symptoms of thyroid cancer include trouble swallowing, hoarseness, and a lump in your neck.
What you can do
Before taking Trulicity, tell your doctor about your family and personal medical history. Especially tell them if you have MTC or MEN 2, as these conditions could increase your risk of thyroid cancer.
Your doctor may suggest that you watch for symptoms of thyroid cancer while you’re taking Trulicity. If you have symptoms of thyroid cancer while taking Trulicity, tell your doctor right away. They may order tests to check your thyroid for cancer. If you develop thyroid cancer, your doctor will likely switch you to a diabetes treatment other than Trulicity.
Constipation and diarrhea
Constipation and diarrhea are possible side effects of Trulicity. Mild diarrhea was common in clinical studies of the drug, while mild constipation was less common. However, in rare cases, Trulicity may cause severe constipation and diarrhea.
With constipation, you have bowel movements less frequently than usual. And with diarrhea, you have watery or loose stools that may pass more often than usual. Symptoms of mild constipation and diarrhea typically include abdominal pain and bloating.
Other symptoms can occur in more severe cases of constipation and diarrhea. Examples include:
- fecal impaction (a hardened lump of stool that blocks the rectum)
- bloody, black, or tarry stool
- rectal bleeding
- nausea and vomiting
Taking higher doses of Trulicity may increase your risk of constipation and diarrhea.
What you can do
If you have bothersome constipation or diarrhea with Trulicity, talk with your doctor. They can suggest ways to ease your symptoms.
For example, your doctor may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) treatments such as stool softeners or laxatives for constipation. For diarrhea, they may suggest OTC treatments such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) or loperamide (Imodium).
However, if you have severe constipation or diarrhea, tell your doctor right away. Rarely, these conditions may be serious enough to require treatment in the hospital. Your doctor can tell you whether your condition is severe enough that you need to go to the hospital.
Injection site reactions
Injection site reactions are possible with Trulicity. These reactions happen around the area where Trulicity is injected.
Injection site reactions were rare in Trulicity’s clinical studies. However, they can still happen. Examples include:
What you can do
To reduce your risk of injection site reactions with Trulicity, rotate your injection sites with each dose. Trulicity is typically injected into your thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. To learn more about how to inject Trulicity, see its prescribing information.
If you have bothersome injection site reactions with Trulicity, talk with your doctor. They can suggest other ways to help ease your symptoms.
Fatigue may occur with Trulicity. However, this was one of the least common side effects in clinical studies of the drug.
Fatigue typically refers to low energy. You may have other symptoms with fatigue as well, including:
- trouble concentrating
- muscle or joint pain
What you can do
If you have fatigue with Trulicity, talk with your doctor. As your body gets used to Trulicity, this side effect should ease over time. However, if your fatigue doesn’t go away or is bothersome, your doctor can advise on ways to help increase your energy.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are possible side effects of Trulicity. Mild nausea and vomiting were common in clinical studies of the drug. Rarely, Trulicity may cause severe nausea and vomiting.
Your risk of nausea and vomiting may be greater if you use higher doses of Trulicity.
What you can do
If you have nausea or vomiting while using Trulicity, talk with your doctor. Especially tell them if your symptoms are severe. They can suggest treatments or advise if your condition is severe enough to need treatment in the hospital.
As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after using Trulicity. A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible.
Possible symptoms of mild and serious allergic reactions are listed in the table below.
|Mild allergic reaction symptoms||Serious allergic reaction symptoms|
|• itching||• trouble breathing|
|• rash||• swelling in your throat or mouth|
|• flushing||• swelling under your skin, possibly in your hands, feet, lips, or eyelids|
If you have an allergic reaction to Trulicity, call your doctor right away. This is important to do because the reaction could become severe.
However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.
Below are several precautions for Trulicity.
Boxed warning: Risk of thyroid cancer
This drug has a
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you start Trulicity. This drug may not be the right treatment option for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health.
The conditions and factors to consider include those described below.
- Severe problems with digestion. Doctors may not prescribe Trulicity for people who have severe problems with digestion. This includes gastroparesis (a condition that prevents the stomach from digesting food as it should). Before starting Trulicity, tell your doctor if you have severe problems with digestion. The drug may worsen your condition. Your doctor may recommend a treatment other than Trulicity for you.
- Liver problems. It isn’t known if Trulicity is safe for people with liver problems. Before using Trulicity, tell your doctor if you have liver problems. They may watch your liver function more closely than usual while you’re taking the drug. If your liver problems worsen while using Trulicity, your doctor may have you stop the drug.
- Kidney problems. Before starting Trulicity, tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, such as kidney failure. The drug may worsen your condition. Your doctor will likely watch your kidney function closely while you take Trulicity. If the drug worsens your kidney problems, your doctor may switch you to a drug other than Trulicity.
- Pancreatitis. Before starting Trulicity, tell your doctor if you have pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or have had it in the past. Trulicity may cause pancreatitis as a side effect. However, the drug hasn’t been studied in people who’ve had this condition. Your doctor can recommend whether it’s safe for you to use Trulicity.
- Diabetic retinopathy. Before starting Trulicity, tell your doctor if you have diabetic retinopathy. (This condition affects your eyes and vision.) Trulicity may worsen diabetic retinopathy. Your doctor will likely watch your condition closely while you take Trulicity to make sure it doesn’t get worse.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Trulicity or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Trulicity. Ask your doctor what other medications may be better options for you.
Consuming alcohol during Trulicity treatment
There aren’t any known interactions between Trulicity and alcohol.
However, keep in mind that alcohol can affect your blood sugar levels. This can make it hard to manage your diabetes or know if Trulicity is working to treat the condition. (Trulicity is prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes.)
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor. They can tell you if there’s a safe amount of alcohol for you to drink while using Trulicity.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding during Trulicity treatment
It isn’t known for sure if Trulicity is safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Animal studies have shown that Trulicity may cause harm to a fetus. However, animal studies don’t always predict what happens in humans.
If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, talk with your doctor before starting Trulicity treatment. They’ll talk with you about the risks and benefits of using Trulicity during pregnancy. Also, if you have questions about the best way to feed a child while using Trulicity, talk with your doctor.
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to find out more information about Trulicity. If you have questions about the drug’s side effects, your pharmacist or healthcare professional can help answer them for you.
In addition to discussing Trulicity with your doctor, you may find the following articles helpful in learning more.
- Overview of Trulicity. To read an overview of Trulicity, see this article.
- Drug comparison. To learn how Trulicity compares with Ozempic, read this article. To see a comparison with Victoza, see this article.
- Details about diabetes. To learn more about type 2 diabetes, which Trulicity is used to treat, see this article.
Disclaimer: Healthgrades has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.