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What Are the Pros and Cons of Calcitonin for Osteoporosis?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Taking calcitonin for osteoporosis is often a good choice for people with the disease, but it can have some negative consequences. On the pro side, calcitonin can be effective in slowing the progression of bone loss, and it also helps reduce bone pain. It may also be a viable option for patients who cannot tolerate other medications. On the con side, calcitonin can have some unpleasant side effects. It is also typically not as effective for osteoporosis treatment as some other types of drugs.

One of the positive aspects of taking calcitonin for osteoporosis is its ability to slow the rate of bone loss in patients. The medication is a type of hormone involved in helping the bones absorb calcium, so taking it can help keep thinning bones from getting even weaker. This can in turn decrease the chances of bone fractures, especially in the spine.

Another benefit of taking calcitonin for osteoporosis is that it helps stop bone pain. The drug has an analgesic effect, particularly for those with spinal compression fractures as a result of their condition. Though it may take several weeks and is not guaranteed for all patients, most people find some relief from pain after taking the medication.

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Some patients who cannot tolerate other osteoporosis medications may be able to take calcitonin instead. Some of the most common types of osteoporosis drugs are bisphosphonates, and they work well for many people, but others can experience serious side effects when taking them. Estrogen replacement is an option for some women, but can increase the chance of life-threatening issues such as blood clots or stroke. For patients concerned about these problems, calcitonin may be a good alternative.

People taking calcitonin for osteoporosis may experience some negative side effects from the drug. Typically given in a nasal spray form, the medication may cause an irritated or runny nose or may lead to nosebleeds. Some patients may feel dizzy, get headaches, or lose their appetites from calcitonin. In rare but serious cases, patients may have a dangerous allergic reaction that can cause hives, swelling of the face and throat, and difficulty breathing.

While it can help decrease bone loss, calcitonin is typically not as effective as certain other drugs. For example, bisphosphonates are generally much more powerful and better at stopping a decrease in bone density. If other drugs cannot be tolerated then it may be the best option, but most patients may want to talk to their doctors to ensure they are taking the best medication possible.

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