How Effective Is Alendronate for Osteoporosis? (with pictures)

B. Chisholm
B. Chisholm
Alendronate is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis.
Alendronate is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis.

Alendronate for osteoporosis is effective, both as treatment and prevention. It is usually taken long-term daily or weekly and is available in most countries by prescription only. It is known by different trade names according to country and manufacturer.

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and dispose the person to fractures, most commonly of the hip, spine and wrist. While the exact cause is not known, menopause and its decrease in estrogen levels and long-term use of corticosteroids seem to be risk factors. More commonly found in women, it is not, however, exclusive to the female gender. The body's bones are constantly being resorbed and rebuilt by the bone cells osteoclasts and osteoblasts. If this sensitive balance goes out, as in the case of osteoporosis, the bones become thin and fragile.

Negative drug interactions with certain other medications can limit the use of alendronate.
Negative drug interactions with certain other medications can limit the use of alendronate.

This is where alendronate for osteoporosis enters the picture. Alendronate, which belongs to the class of drugs called bisphosphonates, works by stopping the breakdown of bone by the osteoclasts and therefore minimizing the risk of fracture. It does this by binding tightly to the bone and stopping the removal of calcium. It is important, too, to take supplemental calcium because, by preventing the removal of calcium, alendronate for osteoporosis may also lower the calcium levels in the body.

Osteoporosis can limit mobility and independence in seniors.
Osteoporosis can limit mobility and independence in seniors.

While the efficacy of alendronate for osteoporosis has been established it may, like all medicines, have side effects. The most commonly reported side effect is irritation or ulceration of the esophagus. For this reason, it is vital that alendronate for osteoporosis is taken standing up, with a large glass of water. The patient should avoid lying down or eating for at least half an hour after administration to minimize the risk of this side effect.

Other reported side effects include osteonecrosis of the jaw, headache and gastrointestinal side effects. Should any of these adverse effects be experienced, the prescribing doctor should be consulted. Alendronate drug interactions may occur so any other medications, including over-the-counter, complementary and homeopathic drugs, should be discussed with the prescribing doctor. Pregnancy, desired pregnancy and lactation should also be discussed.

A number of medications other than bisphosphonates are also on the market for osteoporosis and the choice will be made according to each patient's clinical picture. Non-drug measures are important too, exercise being the most important of these. Strengthening exercises to improve posture and balance help to minimize the risk of falls and fractures.

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    • Alendronate is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis.
      Alendronate is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis.
    • Negative drug interactions with certain other medications can limit the use of alendronate.
      Negative drug interactions with certain other medications can limit the use of alendronate.
    • Osteoporosis can limit mobility and independence in seniors.
      Osteoporosis can limit mobility and independence in seniors.