Alendronate: Uses, Side Effects

Alendronate is a bisphosphonate medicine that alters bone formation and breakdown in the body. This can slow bone loss and may help prevent bone fractures.

Alendronate is used to treat osteoporosis caused by menopause, steroid use, or gonadal failure. alendronate is for use when you have a high risk of bone fracture due to osteoporosis.

Alendronate is also used to treat Paget’s disease of bone.

Alendronate may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not take alendronate if you have problems with your esophagus, or low levels of calcium in your blood.

Do not take alendronate if you cannot sit upright or stand for at least 30 minutes after taking the medicine.

Alendronate can cause serious problems in the stomach or esophagus. Stop using alendronate and call your doctor at once if you have chest pain, new or worsening heartburn, or pain when swallowing.

Also call your doctor if you have muscle spasms, numbness or tingling (in hands and feet or around the mouth), new or unusual hip pain, or severe pain in your joints, bones, or muscles.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take alendronate if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia); or
  • problems with the muscles in your esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach).

Do not take alendronate if you cannot sit upright or stand for at least 30 minutes. Alendronate can cause serious problems in the stomach or esophagus. You must stay upright for at least 30 minutes after taking alendronate.

To make sure alendronate is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • trouble swallowing;
  • problems with your stomach or digestion;
  • hypocalcemia;
  • a dental problem (you may need a dental exam before you begin taking alendronate);
  • kidney disease; or
  • any condition that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients from food (malabsorption).

The effervescent tablet contains a lot of sodium. Tell your doctor if you are on a low-salt diet before using this form of alendronate.

In rare cases, this medicine may cause bone loss (osteonecrosis) in the jaw. Symptoms include jaw pain or numbness, red or swollen gums, loose teeth, or slow healing after dental work. The longer you use alendronate, the more likely you are to develop this condition.

Osteonecrosis of the jaw may be more likely if you have cancer or received chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other risk factors include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and a preexisting dental problem.

Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether alendronate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; wheezing, difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using alendronate and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • chest pain, new or worsening heartburn;
  • difficulty or pain when swallowing;
  • pain or burning under the ribs or in the back;
  • severe heartburn, burning pain in your upper stomach, or coughing up blood;
  • new or unusual pain in your thigh or hip;
  • jaw pain, numbness, or swelling;
  • severe joint, bone, or muscle pain; or
  • low calcium levels–muscle spasms or contractions, numbness or tingly feeling (around your mouth, or in your fingers and toes).

Common side effects may include:

  • heartburn, upset stomach;
  • stomach pain, nausea;
  • diarrhea, constipation; or
  • bone pain, muscle or joint pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

What other drugs will affect alendronate?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • aspirin; or
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) –ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib, diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam, and others.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with alendronate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Talk with your doctor about the best dosing schedule for your other medicines.

Keyword: alendronate.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.