Alendronate

Brand names of alendronate

  • Fosamax

Alendronate belongs to the group of drugs known as bisphosphonates, which are employed to treat osteoporosis (a condition wherein the reduced bone mass results in fractures) as well as bone aches owing to ailments like multiple myeloma, metastatic breast cancer and Paget's disease. It may be noted that our bones are in a condition of continuous remodelling - while old bone is taken away by cells known as osteoclasts, it is replaced with new bone by cells called osteoblasts. Bisphosphonates work to fortify the bones by means of slowing down the process of resorption or removal of bones by osteoclasts. When a woman has reached the menopausal stage, she generally experiences an augmented pace of bone loss which results in osteoporosis. In such conditions, it has been seen that the use of alendronate helps to enhance the bone density and, at the same time, lessens the incidents of bone fractures. Alendronate was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking alendronate

Prior to starting treatment with alendronate, it is important to tell your physician and/ or pharmacist whether you have allergic reactions after taking this medication, any of its ingredients or any different medication. In addition, you should also tell your physician regarding all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, dietary supplements and vitamins you are already taking, especially if you are taking aspirin, any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for instance, naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), chemotherapy for treating cancer, prednisone (Deltasone) and/ or any oral steroid, for instance dexamethasone (Dexone, Decadron). It is likely that if you are taking any of these medications along with alendronate, your physician will be required to either alter the doses of these medications or keep a close watch on their doses to see if you develop any side effects.

Provided you are already taking any other medication, counting dietary supplements, vitamins or oral antacids, you need to take them no less than half an hour after taking alendronate.

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Before you begin using alendronate, you need to tell your physician if you cannot sit or stand straight at a stretch for a minimum of 30 minutes and if you are suffering from or have ever suffered from poor calcium level in your bloodstream or are enduring any problems related to the esophagus. In such conditions, it is likely that your physician will advise you against taking this medication.

Women who intend to start using alendronate should essentially tell their physician if they are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or are breast-feeding. This is important because this medication remains in the body for several years after you have discontinued taking it. In case any woman gets pregnant during treatment with alendronate, she needs to call her physician right away for advice on what to do next.

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Ahead of using alendronate, you also need to tell your physician if you are undertaking radiation therapy. Also tell your physician if you are suffering from or have ever endured anemia (a condition wherein the red blood cells do not carry sufficient oxygen to all the body parts); problems in swallowing; a poor vitamin D level in your body; cancer; any type of ulcer or other stomach disorders; any sort of infection, particularly in the mouth; problems related to the mouth, gums and/ or teeth; any dental or kidney ailment; and/ or any problem that prevents clotting of your blood as it should.

People who intent to start treatment with alendronate ought to be aware of the fact that this medication has the potential to cause severe problems related to their jaw, particularly if they undergo a dental surgery or any type of dental treatment while using alendronate. Thus, prior to taking alendronate, it is essential that a dentist examines the patient's teeth and undertakes the requisite treatment. If you are taking alendronate, ensure that your brush your teeth as well as clean your mouth thoroughly. It is advisable that you consult your physician in case you need to undertake any dental treatment while you are already taking alendronate.

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If you are taking or intend to take alendronate, you should be aware that this medication has the aptitude to cause acute bone, joint and muscle pain. You may experience this pain within a few days of taking alendronate or even after several months or years of taking this medication for the first time. While normally this type of pain occurs after taking alendronate for quite some time, it is important that your physician as well as you to understand that this pain is caused owing to the use of this medication. If you experience grave pain during treatment with alendronate, call your physician right away. In such cases, your physician is likely to advise you to discontinue taking alendronate and soon after you stop taking this medication you may be relieved of the distress.

In addition, consult your physician regarding all other things that you may do to avoid developing osteoporosis or if you are already suffering from this condition, about the ways to prevent the condition from deteriorating. It is likely that your physician will suggest you to quit smoking tobacco as well as restrict your consumption of alcoholic beverages. Your physician may also ask you to follow a weight-bearing work-out on a regular basis.

Usage

Alendronate belongs to the class of medications known as bisphosphonates and is used for preventing as well as treating osteoporosis (a particular type of bone loss) in adults. When a woman develops osteoporosis her bones turn out to be thinner as well as have a tendency to break or fracture easily. Your possibilities of developing osteoporosis become more as you grow older and, in the case of women, after they reach the menopausal stage. The risks of having this condition also increase if you are taking any corticosteroid medication, for instance, prednisone, for a prolonged period of time. Alendronate acts by inhibiting the rate of bone loss. The impact of this medication aids in maintaining strong bones as well as lessening the possibilities of having bone fractures.

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Alendronate may also be used for treating Paget's disease - a condition which is marked by very fast breaking as well as restoration of the bones. This disorder may possibly result in deformity as well as vulnerability of bones.

How to use alendronate

Prior to using alendronate and before refilling it each time, you should essentially read the medication guide made available by your pharmacist. In addition, you need to strictly pursue the instructions to ensure that your body is able to soak up the maximum amount of the medication as well as to lessen the possibilities of harming your esophagus. In case you are unable to understand anything or have any queries, you should ask your physician or pharmacist. Alendronate is taken orally once daily after you wake up in the morning and prior to taking your first meal, drink or medication of the day. This medication should always be taken with a glass (6 oz to 8 oz) of water. Alendronate is available in tablet form. Never chew or suck this medication, but swallow it as a whole.

After taking alendronate, you should sit, stand or walk in a completely upright position for no less than 30 minutes and do not lie down till you have taken your first meal of the day. It may be noted that this medication only works when it is taken on an empty stomach. After taking this medication you should wait for a minimum of 30 minutes, if possible for one to two hours, before you take the first meal or drink, except water, of the day. Never take alendronate prior to retiring to bed for the day or before getting up from your bed in the morning. Doing otherwise may not help the body to absorb the medication and this may result in adverse effects. Remember, taking other medications, tea, coffee, antacids, soda, vitamins, mineral water, and juices enriched with calcium as well as water may possibly lessen the rate of absorption of this medication by your body. It is advisable that you do not take any of these for no less than 30 minutes (if possible after one to two hours) after taking alendronate. In order to get the utmost benefit of using alendronate, take this medication on a regular basis and to remember taking alendronate, take it at the same time every morning. It is advisable that you consult your physician regarding the risks as well as benefits of taking alendronate on a long-term basis.

Alendronate should never be shared with other people. Changes in one's lifestyle that aid in making the bones stronger and increase their density include undertaking weight-bearing work-outs, quitting smoking, restricting consumption of alcoholic beverages and having properly-balanced meals containing enough calcium as well as vitamin D. In addition to these, you may possibly also require taking dietary supplements containing calcium and vitamin D. It is advisable that you talk to your physician for detailed advice on this matter. Examinations undertaken in laboratories and/ or medical tests, such as measuring the height, X-rays, and determining the levels of minerals in the bloodstream ought to be done every so often with a view to keep an eye on your progress or make sure if you have developed any side effects owing to the use of this medication. Talk to your physician for additional details on this topic.

How alendronate works

Our bones are constantly being remodelled - broken down and subsequently restored. During this course, the minerals as well as other elements that make up the bones are reabsorbed by a group of cells called osteoclasts, while another group of cells called oestoblasts lay down the new bones. The bisphosphonate drug alendronate works to curb the actions of osteoclasts and, as a result, the process of breaking down the bone tissues takes place very slowly compared to the formation of new bones. The action of this medication helps to maintain the strength as well as the density of the bones.

Side effects

Common:
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Phytoestrogens derived from soy or any other plant are likely to work to balance the action of alendronate. However, scientists are yet to undertake research on this aspect. Presently, scientists are studying the use of ipriflavone, a synthetic flavonoid for treating osteoporosis. It has been found that ipriflavone works to slow down the resorption or removal of bone by curbing the actions of cells called osteoclasts and, simultaneously, promoting the functioning of cells called osteoblasts, which lay down new bones. However, the use of ipriflavone in conjunction with alendronate is yet to be studied.
People who have developed osteoporosis require proper intake of the essential mineral calcium as well as vitamin D. Such people may take calcium supplements no less than 30 minutes after taking alendronate. It is advisable to take effervescent calcium (in solution form) as it is absorbed by the body relatively faster and also helps to avert any problem.
Foods:
Alendronate should never be taken along with food.
Beverages:
It is worth mentioning that drinking any liquid, except water, will lessen the quantity of alendronate absorbed by your body to prevent and treat osteoporosis. It is important to always take alendronate with a glass (6 oz to 8 oz) of water.
Alcohol:
Consumption of alcoholic drinks, particularly in heavy amounts, may possibly work in the form of a poison for osteoblasts (cells that lay down new bones). In effect, drinking alcohol excessively increases the risks of developing osteoporosis. In addition, intake of alcohol may cause irritation in the cells lining the stomach.
Tobacco smoking:
Smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Hence, it is advisable that you quit smoking.
Heavy exercise or exertion:
In case you have a very low bone density, it is not advisable to undertake heavy aerobic work-outs. Consult your physician prior to undertaking any exercise. Generally, performing weight-bearing work-outs invigorates the receptors (known as mechanoreceptors) to discharge factors which leads to the strengthening of the bones.

Discontinuation

It is advisable that you should not stop taking alendronate suddenly, but consult your physician prior to discontinuing with the medication.

Storage instructions

Alendronate should always be stored at room temperature and in a dark and dry place. Never store this medication in your bathroom, which is damp most of the time. In addition, store all medications in such a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets. When you do not require any medication or its expiry date has lapsed, never dispose it off by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain, if not you have been instructed otherwise. Such medications should always be disposed off in a safe and proper manner. It is advisable that you talk to your pharmacist or any neighbourhood waste disposal company regarding the proper and safe means to discard the unwanted medications.

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