Prescription weight loss medicines can help obese people lose weight. They are usually prescribed by a doctor when diet and exercise alone are not working. Each of these medicines works differently.
People who use these medicines may not feel as hungry as they normally do. Or they may feel full after eating only a small amount of food. Another type of weight-loss medicine makes it harder for your body to absorb fat.
Prescription weight loss drugs can be helpful when used in combination with a low-calorie diet and regular physical activity.
Who uses prescription weight loss medicines?
Prescription weight-loss medicines are only for people who are obese. Most of these medicines are designed for people who weigh 20% or more above what is ideal for their height and body type. Or they are used with people who have a high body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. Your doctor may prescribe you medicine to treat your obesity if you have:
A BMI of 30 or greater.
A BMI of 27 or more and you have a disease or condition that may be related to your weight like diabetes and/or high blood pressure.
Prescription Weight Loss Medicines Can Offer A Path To Improved Health
Prescription weight-loss medicines generally work in 2 ways. Most work in your body to make you less hungry or feel full faster. One FDA-approved medicine works in your digestive tract. It blocks the amount of fat your body can absorb. Some medicines are approved only for a short period of time, usually no more than 12 weeks. Others can be used long-term.
Perscription Weight Loss Medicine Currently Approved By The FDA for Weight Loss
Brand name: Xenical
How it works: It reduces the amount of fat your body absorbs.
Side effects: diarrhea, gas, uncontrollable bowel movements, leakage of oily stool
Warnings: It can reduce the amount of certain vitamins that your body can absorb You should take a multivitamin pill every day.
Orlistat is also available in a lower dose without a prescription. That over-the-counter medicine is called Alli. Orlistat is the only medicine of its kind to be approved in the U.S.
The following medicines make you feel less hungry or full faster. They share common side effects, including constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhea, and nausea. Additional side effects are listed for each medicine.
Brand name: Belviq
How it works: It helps you feel fuller faster by acting on serotonin receptors in your brain.
Side effects: cough, headaches, feeling tired
Warnings: It could cause interactions with medicines that treat depression, anxiety, or migraines.
Brand name: Contrave
How it works: It makes you less hungry or fuller faster.
Side effects: headache, increased blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia, liver damage, vomiting
Warnings: Don’t use if you have untreated high blood pressure, seizures, or a history of anorexia or bulimia. Don’t use if you are dependent on opioid pain medicines or are withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. Don’t use it if you are already taking bupropion (brand names Wellbutrin, Zyban). This medicine could increase suicidal thoughts or actions.
Brand name: Qysmia
How it works: It decreases appetite and makes you feel full sooner
Side effects: taste changes (especially carbonated beverages), tingling of hands and feet, trouble sleeping
Warnings: Tell your doctor if you have had a heart attack, stroke, abnormal heart rhythm, kidney disease, or mood disorder. Do not take if you have hyperthyroidism or glaucoma. This medicine could cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Brand name: Saxenda
How it works: It makes you feel less hungry or full sooner
Side effects: abdominal pain, headache, increased pulse
Warnings: It is available only by injection. This could increase the chance of developing pancreatitis.
Other Perscription Weight Loss Medicines That Curb Your Appetite
Short-Term Perscription Weight Loss Medicines Side Effects
👉 Difficulty sleeping
👉 Feeling nervous or restless
👉 Raised blood pressure or pulse
You should not use these medicines if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or glaucoma. You should tell your doctor if you have anxiety or mood disorders before using these medicines.
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