Prevention and treatment of
(thinning of the bones) in postmenopausal women
Treatment of osteoporosis in menTreatment of corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis
(thickening and softening of bones due to an abnormal increase in both bone breakdown and bone rebuilding)
Throughout life, bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. In the cases of osteoporosis and Paget's disease, this natural cycle is altered. This change, along with other factors, leads to a loss of bone (osteoporosis), or loss of bone at some places in the body and thickening of bone in other places (Paget's disease). Alendronate helps to improve overall bone mass by inhibiting its breakdown.
It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits, to allow for dosage adjustments and to help reduce side effects. The following information may affect your usage of alendronate, so be sure to tell your doctor: If you are pregnant or breastfeedingIf you are planning to be pregnant or breastfeedingIf you are following a special dietIf you are taking aspirin, products that contain aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)If you are taking antacids (calcium) or ranitidine
Alendronate may make some medical conditions worse. Tell your doctor if you have any medical problems, especially: Stomach, intestinal, or esophageal problemsKidney problemsLow level of blood calcium or vitamin D deficiency
Take alendronate in the morning on an empty stomach. Take with a full glass of plain water, and wait at least 30 minutes before consuming any food, beverage, or other medicines. Food and beverages other than plain water will decrease the amount of alendronate absorbed by the body. Medications, such as antacids, or calcium or vitamin supplements, will also decrease absorption. Waiting at least 30 minutes allows for more of the drug to be absorbed.
Do not lie down for 30 minutes after taking this drug. Staying upright will help the alendronate reach your stomach faster, and will help prevent irritation in your throat.
You may be advised to increase the amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Both of these nutrients are important for bone health. You can get these nutrients through foods, but your doctor may also recommend a supplement.
Sources of calcium include: Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy productsCalcium-fortified juices and breakfast cerealsSardines and salmon with bonesLeafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and turnip greens
Sources of vitamin D include: Fortified milkFish oilSunshine; your body can make vitamin D with the sunlight absorbed through your skin
Take a missed dose as soon as possible. If you miss a daily dose, resume the next day. If you miss a weekly dose, resume the next day and again the following week on the scheduled day. Do not double up on doses.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur: Abdominal painDifficulty swallowingHeartburnIrritation or pain of the esophagusVomitingBlack or tarry stoolsSkin rash or swelling (rare)
Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects occur frequently and/or become bothersome: ConstipationDiarrheaFull or bloated feelingGasHeadacheNauseaBone, muscle, or joint pain
Alendronate. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 7, 2015. Accessed August 12, 2015.
Fosamax (alendronate sodium tablet). US National Library of Medicine Daily Med website. Available at: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=f2dcfb39-a7c2-4e39-9e35-852a3a74f947#section-8.1. Updated June 2015. Accessed August 12, 2015.
Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 15, 2015. Accessed August 12, 2015.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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