Virtual Consultations
Please directly call our main office to complete your appointment
Virtual Consultations
Book Appointment

Understanding Semaglutide and Hypoglycemic Counterregulation

Semaglutide’s Effects on the Body's Glucose Regulation System

At Dr. V Medical Aesthetics, your health, beauty and wellbeing are our top priorities. 

 That's why we stay up-to-date on the latest medical research and technologies that can help our clients look and feel their best. One area we've been following closely is new developments in diabetes care, especially a medication called semaglutide and its effects on hypoglycemia.

Get Your Health Back On Track With Our Medical Weight Loss Management Programs

Let Dr. V and our staff help you discover the true beauty hiding within. Book your consultation with us today to learn more about your ideal cosmetic treatment.

request your consultation

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is an injectable prescription medication used to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. 

Semaglutide mimics the action of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone, which is involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels.

Here's a quick explanation of how semaglutide works:

  • Stimulates the pancreas to release the right amount of insulin when your blood sugar goes up after eating. Insulin helps move sugar from your blood into your cells to be used for energy.
  • Reduces the amount of glucagon (a hormone that raises blood sugar) released from your pancreas. This helps prevent your liver from releasing stored sugar into your bloodstream.
  • Slows digestion so that sugar is absorbed into your blood more gradually after meals, preventing spikes.

The end result - better blood sugar control!

Semaglutide helps lower your A1c, which is a key marker of blood sugar management over a 3 month period. It has also been shown to reduce cardiovascular risks in people with type 2 diabetes.

When combined with diet, exercise and other diabetes medications if needed, semaglutide can be an effective tool to manage this chronic condition.

Comparison of Semaglutide to Other Diabetes Medications

MedicationDrug ClassA1c LoweringWeight ChangeHypoglycemia Risk
SemaglutideGLP-1 receptor agonist1.5-1.8%Loss 3-5 kgLow
SulfonylureasSecretagogue1-2%Gain 1-2 kgHigh
InsulinExogenous insulin1.5-3.5%Gain 1-2 kgHigh

What is Hypoglycemic Counterregulation?

Now that we’ve covered how semaglutide works to lower blood sugar, let’s discuss counterregulation. This refers to your body’s natural defenses against low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia).

When your blood sugar drops too low, counterregulatory hormones like glucagon and epinephrine kick in to bring it back up. Here is how it works:

  • Your pancreas secretes less insulin and more glucagon. Remember, glucagon raises blood sugar.
  • Your adrenal glands release epinephrine (adrenaline), which stimulates glucose release.
  • Your liver releases stored sugar to increase circulating blood glucose levels.
  • Growth hormone and cortisol also help counteract hypoglycemia.

This coordinated physiological response helps restore normal blood sugar levels and prevent you from experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms like shakiness, fatigue, confusion, and even loss of consciousness in severe cases.

Counterregulation is impaired in people with long-standing type 2 diabetes. This means it takes a greater drop in blood sugar before these defense mechanisms activate.

This leaves people vulnerable to developing hypoglycemia, especially if taking certain medications like insulin or sulfonylureas. Low blood sugar is something to avoid, so medications that impact counterregulation need to be carefully managed.

Which brings us to…

How Does Semaglutide Affect Hypoglycemic Counterregulation?

semaglutide and hypoglycemic counterregulation

As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, semaglutide can influence counterregulatory hormone response. 

However, a study was conducted specifically to investigate the effects of semaglutide on glucagon and other counterregulatory hormones during induced hypoglycemia in people with type 2 diabetes. 

The findings indicated that semaglutide treatment did not compromise the counterregulatory glucagon response during experimental hypoglycemia in these individuals. This suggests that semaglutide does not impair the body's natural response to low blood sugar levels.

While semaglutide has been associated with risks like hypoglycemia, gastrointestinal side effects, and other adverse events, it did not show an increase in the incidence of these issues compared to placebo or active comparators in clinical trials. 

The risk of hypoglycemia specifically appears to be low when semaglutide is used alone, but increases when combined with sulfonylureas and/or insulin.

Tips to Prevent Hypoglycemia on Semaglutide

The good news is there are ways to proactively manage your blood sugar while on semaglutide therapy. Here are some tips:

  • Monitor your blood glucose regularly to catch lows early. Work with your doctor to determine the best times to check your levels based on your medication regimen and meals.
  • Discuss adjusting insulin or other glucose-lowering medication doses with your provider, especially when first starting semaglutide. Lower doses may be needed to prevent hypoglycemia.
  • Eat consistent carb amounts during meals and do not skip meals, especially if taking insulin or sulfonylureas. Carb consistency and meal timing helps stabilize blood sugar.
  • Always treat hypoglycemia immediately if it occurs by consuming fast-acting carbs. Carry glucose tabs or candy with you for quick relief.
  • Increase physical activity gradually. Exercise can lower blood sugar, so start slow and check levels before/after to prevent overdropping.
  • Wear medical identification indicating you have diabetes and use semaglutide in case of an emergency.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar so you can act quickly. Symptoms may include shakiness, heart palpitations, hunger, confusion, blurred vision, and more.

Prioritizing Prevention While Enjoying Treatment Benefits

Dr. V

We hope this information helps you understand how semaglutide works and its potential effects on counterregulation. While semaglutide might increase the risk of hypoglycemia in some individuals, the benefits often outweigh the risks with proper precautions.

Semaglutide has been shown to lower A1c and promote weight loss more effectively than many other diabetes medications. For many people, it can be life-changing medication when combined with lifestyle modifications.

Work closely with your medical provider to determine if semaglutide is the right treatment option for your diabetes management needs. Ask any questions you have about possible side effects and how to minimize risks.

At Dr. V Medical Aesthetics, your health is our priority. We want you to feel empowered to advocate for yourself and get the most out of your diabetes treatment. You deserve to look and feel your best while managing this condition.

To Conclude:

  • Semaglutide mimics the glucagon-like peptide-1 hormone to improve blood sugar control.
  • It does not appear to impair the body's natural counterregulatory response to hypoglycemia based on current research.
  • Semaglutide is an effective diabetes treatment with a favorable safety profile and significant benefits for many patients.
  • Risks like gastrointestinal issues and hypoglycemia when combined with certain medications need to be considered.
  • Work with your doctor to optimize semaglutide therapy while taking precautions.

We hope you found this overview on semaglutide and counterregulation helpful. Remember, we are here for you every step of your health and wellness journey. 

Schedule a consultation today to learn more about semaglutide and other cutting-edge therapies that may be right for you. 


Contact - Internal Page / Blog Post

Follow Us:

Find Confidence In Your Beauty

Dr. V Medical Aesthetics is ready to help you achieve your beauty goals. Contact us today to learn more about any of our services, and exactly what our team can do for you.