You can only stop taking alendronic acid when your doctor says so. It’s harmful if you suddenly stop taking it without a proper assessment from your healthcare provider. It usually takes 6-12 months of taking alendronic acid to support your bones. However, your doctor will mostly recommend you at least take the drug for three years to benefit from it for a long time. Stopping this medication means maintaining your bone health and density through lifestyle and diet. You could suffer from much weaker bones and severe fractures without proper care.
As you age, you will notice changes in your body, such as grayed hair, wrinkles, vision problems, and hearing loss.
Some people, as early as the age of 35, experiences loss of average bone density resulting in weaker bones.
This makes them at high risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis.
There are over 200 million people worldwide who have osteoporosis. It is a condition when you have fragile bones, making you prone to bone fractures or breaks from daily activities such as walking or standing.
While there is no cure for osteoporosis, your doctor will give you a treatment plan like taking medications and lifestyle changes.
It will slow down the breakdown of bones and support the faster growth of new bones in your body.
Below is everything you need to know about alendronic acid, commonly prescribed by doctors to treat bone conditions. But first, you should learn more about osteoporosis.
Table of Contents
What is osteoporosis?
Your body naturally breaks down old bones and replaces them with new bone tissues to support your skeletal system throughout life.
But, due to some factors, your bone mass could decrease rapidly, and your body could break down bones much faster than replacing them.
Without the support of new bone tissues, your bones become more porous and fragile, making you prone to bone fractures.
If you have osteoporosis, bone fractures commonly occur in your:
- Hip or groin
Below are the most common factors that may put you at risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Menopause in women or low testosterone levels in men
- Caucasian or Asian descent
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Poor nutrition such as low-intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Lack of physical activity
- Low body mass index
- Alcohol drinking
- Long-term use of medication such as corticosteroids
You’re also at a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis if you have health conditions like:
- Chronic thyroid disease or hyperthyroidism
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and other inflammatory bowel conditions that affect your body in absorbing nutrients
Osteoporosis won’t give you any symptoms, but you should visit your doctor if you’re in doubt, especially if you’re approaching menopausal age.
However, below are early signs of osteoporosis:
- Receding gums
- Weakened grip strength
- Weak and brittle nails
Please see your doctor if your family has a history of osteoporosis to assess your risk.
Your doctor may recommend you go for a regular bone density test using X-rays, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA), or a special CT scan to diagnose.
What does alendronic acid do to your body?
Alendronic acid contains an active ingredient, alendronate sodium, a bisphosphonate.
It is commonly prescribed to treat patients with bone issues like osteoporosis and Paget’s disease.
This medicine is available as a generic drug in oral pill or solution form and under brand names like Fosamax (oral tablet) and Binosto (oral effervescent medication).
Alendronate works similarly to other bisphosphonate drugs like risedronate, ibandronate, zoledronic acid, pamidronate, and etidronate.
It slows down your body from producing cells that break down your old bones, giving enough time for bone-building cells to spur the growth of new bones.
Thus, it helps increase bone density, reduce the risk of bone fractures, and treat osteoporosis.
Taking alendronic acid for at least a year can halve your chances of fractures in your wrist, hip, or spine when you’ve entered the menopausal stage.
This drug is only available for prescription and should be taken with caution.
Below are essential things that you should know before taking alendronic acid:
1. Good dental health is essential when taking alendronic acid
Tell your doctor if you have any dental implants or any tooth issues before taking alendronic acid.
It may put you at risk of jaw bone damage.
2. Take it on an empty stomach with a full glass (6-8 ounces) of plain (tap) water
It’s recommended to take it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
You can only take it with plain water, not mineral water.
If you’re unsure of your tap water, you can boil it for 1-3 minutes and cool it down before drinking.
Food, mineral water, and other beverages may interrupt your body from absorbing the medicine.
Wait for at least 30 minutes after taking the drug. Then, you can resume eating and drinking normally.
3. Do not chew, break, or crush the tablet; take it as prescribed
If you were prescribed to take 10 mg of alendronic acid, swallow one whole tablet daily.
If you missed a dose, take it the following day and do not double take it to avoid overdosing.
Take one tablet of alendronic acid 70 mg weekly if you’re prescribed brands like Fosamax and Fosavance.
For oral liquid medicine, use the dosing syringe to measure one unit (70 mg in 100 ml) of oral solution and take it once a week.
You must take your dose on the same day each week.
If you missed a dose, take it the following morning and continue taking your next doses on your usual schedule.
4. Take your dose while sitting or standing upright
It’s essential to take your dose while your body is upright. Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking medicine.
You can, however, lie down after you’ve eaten your first meal of the day.
This way, you’ll prevent any irritation in your throat or esophagus.
5. Do not take alendronic acid along with other medications, food supplements, or herbal products
Some medications may interact with alendronic acid and may cause it not to work effectively.
Your doctor might recommend you take other drugs 30 minutes after taking alendronic acid.
Please tell your doctor if you’re taking:
- Calcium supplements, magnesium, iron, and zinc multivitamins
- Laxatives containing magnesium
- Cancer medicines such as bevacizumab or thalidomide and if you’re undergoing chemotherapy
- Steroids such as prednisolone or dexamethasone. These may increase the risk of damage to your jaw bone.
- Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. These can cause more side effects, including irritation and ulcers in your esophagus, stomach, or gut.
- Antibiotics can lower the calcium in your blood.
- Deferasirox. It’s a drug that removes excess iron in your body and may increase the risk of bleeding from your gut.
Your doctor might recommend you take brands of alendronic acid such as Fosavance and Bentexo along with vitamin D3 (calciferol).
This vitamin helps your bones absorb more calcium.
But, because you naturally produce vitamin D3, your doctor might not recommend you take supplements unless you have a deficiency.
It’s essential to take calcium supplements and vitamin D3 at least 2-4 hours before your first dose of alendronic acid.
If recommended to be taken twice a day, you should have it during lunchtime and dinnertime.
6. Stop drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol for about two standards per day may increase your risk of bone fractures.
It can worsen the side effects of alendronic acid in your stomach and prevent the drug from working.
7. Follow your doctor’s prescription on the dosage of the medicine
Your dosing may depend on your age, how severe your bone condition is, other medical conditions you have, and your reaction to the first dose.
Warnings when taking alendronic acid
- Suddenly not taking or stopping this medication may cause severe side effects.
- Frequently missing a dose may lessen the drug’s potency.
- Overdosing may lead to an upset stomach, heartburn, and ulcers.
- Store the tablet, oral solution, or oral effervescent form of alendronic acid as directed in its packaging. Don’t freeze it but keep it at room temperature between 15°-30°C.
- In case of severe allergic reactions and poisoning on your first dose, please call your doctor or emergency help immediately.
- Stop taking your next dose if you experience rash or hives, swelling of your face, lips, or tongue, and trouble breathing.
- Avoid taking it if you have esophageal or throat conditions.
- Do not take alendronate if you have low calcium levels.
- Do not take this drug if you have mild to severe kidney problems.
- Alendronic acid may put your pregnancy at risk. But, there’s not enough evidence on this claim. Please tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to before taking this drug.
- There’s little research if alendronic acid is safe for breastfeeding moms. Please talk to your doctor about this.
- Alendronic acid is not for children or teens below 18 years old.
How long does alendronic acid stay in your body?
The effects of alendronic acid may occur after 1 month of taking it.
However, it usually takes 6-12 months of ongoing medication to get its full benefit.
Alendronic acid is generally safe for long-term use and stays in your body. It can support your bones depending on how long you have taken medicine.
Typically, doctors recommend taking osteoporosis medication for 3-5 years.
Then, they will assess if you’ll have to continue taking it or take a break from it by stopping the medication completely.
Your doctor will put into consideration the lifestyle changes you’ve made.
Common and mild side effects
Like any other drug, alendronic acid comes with mild side effects, which affect 1 in 100 people.
In rare cases, it can be severe and may hint at a medical emergency.
- Stomach pain
- Acid reflux
- Upset stomach
- Muscle and joint pain
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Headaches, muscle or joint pain
- Swollen joints, hands, or legs
- Indigestion or bloating
- Itching or a mild rash
- Hair loss
Severe side effects include the following:
- Ulcers or erosions of your esophagus and gut, which include symptoms like severe heartburn, trouble and pain when swallowing, chest pain, bloody vomit, and black or bloody stools
- Bone death or damage on your jaw with symptoms like painful or swollen gums, loosening of teeth, numbness and heavy feeling in your jaw, and mouth sores
- Unusual bone breaks in your hip and leg bones which is indicated by a dull, aching pain in your hips, groin, or thighs
- Hypocalcemia (low calcium levels in your blood) with symptoms of spasms, twitches, or cramps in your muscles and numbness or tingling in your fingers, toes, or muscles around your mouth
- Severe bone, joint, or muscle pain
- Damage of bones in your inner ear with symptoms ear pain, ear discharge, or infection
- Swelling in the eyes which have signs like blurred vision, painful or red eyes
In rare cases, alendronic acid may cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Healthy alternatives for alendronic acid
Please check with your doctor before stopping taking alendronic acid and switching to alternative treatments.
If you suddenly stop taking the drug, you might experience severe side effects, putting you at high risk of more bone fractures.
If you’ve taken alendronic acid for 2 years, your bones might still benefit from it for up to 5 years.
Below are the most common things you can do to care for your bones after you stop taking alendronic acid:
- Eat food for strong bones – Include foods high in calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
- Get vitamin D from sunlight – Spend some time in the sun every day. Make sure to wear adequate sun protection.
- Stop smoking – Smoking harms your bones and your overall health.
- Cut down on alcohol – Reduce your alcohol intake to less than 14 units a week.
- Exercise more – Walking and low-impact aerobics are suitable for your bones. Strength-training activities using your own body weight are also beneficial.
- Check your calcium and vitamin D levels regularly – It will help you supplement your bones with the right amount of calcium and vitamin D to prevent fractures.
- Take vitamin K2 with vitamin D3 every day – The vitamin K2 helps direct the calcium onto the bones.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods for a balanced diet – Include leafy greens, bone broth, prunes, avocados, cucumber, and other vegetables.
- Include supplements and foods rich in magnesium – It helps maintain healthy bone density.
You probably want to get rid of taking alendronic acid as soon as possible and do the natural way of treatment to avoid serious side effects in the future.
But, remember that without medications, you have to supply your body with enough nutrients and exercise to support and strengthen bone growth.
It’s going to be a lifetime commitment!
Do not just stop taking alendronic acid without your doctor’s approval. It could give you terrible side effects.
You should eat more foods that promote healthy bones.
In addition, you should cut down on your alcohol intake, stop smoking, do strength training and supplement your body with calcium and vitamin D3, K2, and magnesium regularly.