What is alendronic acid? Is it safe & what are the side effects?
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis or told by your doctor you’re at a high risk of developing it, you may have been prescribed a medication called Alendronic acid. A common treatment for osteoporosis, it can help keep your bones healthy and strong in your later years.
What is Osteoporosis?
Your bones are actually living tissue that are in a constant state of regeneration. The cells in your bones continually break down and are replaced by new cells quickly enough that your bones stay strong. This process is fastest when you are younger and usually doesn’t start slowing down until your 30’s. Most people reach their peak bone mass at age 30 and after this point they won’t create new bone as quickly as they used to.
Osteoporosis is a condition that slows down the bone renewal process to a point where you aren’t creating nearly enough new cells to replace the ones you’ve lost. This causes your bones to become brittle and weak, making you more susceptible to fractures and breaks. If the osteoporosis is advanced enough, a simple misstep or stumble can leave you with broken bones.
Symptoms of Osteoporosis
It’s unlikely that you’ll have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis. Symptoms don’t start to become noticeable until the disease has progressed.
Signs and symptoms of osteoporosis include:
- Gradual loss of height
- A stooped or hunched posture
- Bones that break much easier than they should
- Back pain caused by fractured or damaged vertebrae
Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but there are some groups that are more likely to do so than others. The more bone mass you have at your peak, the less likely you are to have osteoporosis in your later years.
Osteoporosis is most common in women, particularly Caucasian and Asian women, but other groups are risk are:
- People who have taken steroids long-term
- Women who have been through the menopause
- People who have had certain types of cancer treatments
- Those with hormonal disorders
- People who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol
- Those with a family history of osteoporosis
- People of small or petite stature
Dietary factors can also contribute to the likelihood someone has of developing osteoporosis. Calcium is very important to bone health so if you don’t get enough calcium through your diet your bones won’t be as strong. People with eating disorders or who are consistently underweight are also at a higher risk.
Osteoporosis and The Menopause
When women go through the menopause, their hormonal levels begin to shift and fluctuate, causing a range of symptoms. Even after the hormonal changes stabilise and the symptoms go away, there is still a high risk of developing osteoporosis. That’s because the hormonal changes caused by the menopause impact bone density.
Specifically, during the menopause women stop producing as much oestrogen, a female sex hormone. Oestrogen plays a part in bone health and strength so when a woman’s oestrogen levels drop, their bone density starts to rapidly decrease.
Women who experience early menopause (before the age of 45), who have had a hysterectomy, and have severely irregular periods are at an even higher risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Treatment and Prevention
Osteoporosis is often diagnosed through a type of scan that measures your bone density. If you are diagnosed, your treatment will depend on how advanced the condition is. If it is in the early stages, lifestyle changes may be enough to slow down the progression.
More advanced cases may need medical treatment to prevent further bone loss and to protect against fractures. A common medication prescribed to treat and prevent osteoporosis is alendronic acid.
Alendronic acid is a type of medication known as a bisphosphonate. Both men and women with osteoporosis may be prescribed a bisphosphonate to help strengthen their bones if they have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Also sold under the brand name Fosamax, alendronic acid works by increasing the amount of calcium in your bones. This improves your bone mineral density and makes your bones less likely to break.
Your bones should start to become stronger within a month of starting treatment but in some cases it may take 6-12 months for Aledronic acid or Fosamax to fully protect your bones. Patients typically take alendronic acid for 3-5 years and will need to check in regularly with their GP. If you stop taking it, your bones can still have protection for up to 5 more years before they start losing significant bone density.
Alendronic Acid Side Effects
No matter what medication you take, there’s always some risk of experiencing side effects. Not everyone who takes aledronic acid will have side effects or experience the same ones. Any side effects may wear off as your body gets used to taking the new medication. If you have any worrying side effects or side effects that aren’t going away, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Common Side Effects Include:
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Stomach upset
- Swollen joints or limbs
- Muscle and joint pain
- Hair loss
- Mild itchiness or rash
In rare cases, some people may experience serious side effects while taking alendronic acid. If you experience any of these side effects, you should stop taking alendronic acid and seek medical help.
Serious Side Effects Include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Severe joint, muscle, or bone pain
- Black or red faeces
- Blurred vision or eye pain
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)
Alendronic acid has a risk of damaging your jaw bone. You should ensure you practice good oral hygiene while taking this medication to prevent your jaw bone from deteriorating. Have a dental check-up with your dentist at least every 6 months so they can address any potential issues.
Can I Buy Alendronic Acid Online?
Alendronic acid is only available on prescription, but you can get a prescription online in the UK from the pharmacists at Pharmacy Planet. If you have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing osteoporosis, visit Pharmacy Planet to buy Alendronic acid 70mg online with swift home delivery.