Alendronic acid is a bisphosphonate – a type of medicine that binds to calcium in bones. Bisphosphonates prevent the breakdown of bone and make it stronger. Alendronic acid is a prescription-only medicine.
What is this medicine used for?
Alendronic acid is used to treat osteoporosis, a condition whereby there is more breakdown of bone than formation, making the bones become thinner and leading them to break more easily. It can also cause the vertebra to collapse. Osteoporosis usually occurs in older women due to menopause, but younger women and men may also be affected. The female sex hormone oestrogen plays a role, amongst other things in maintaining the balance between bone breakdown and renewal. When oestrogen levels drop during menopause, this balance is disrupted, which in turn can lead to osteoporosis.
How to use Alendronic acid
Alendronic acid is available in tablet form and comes in two strengths: 10 mg and 70 mg. The 10 mg tablet is for daily use while the 70 mg tablet is for weekly use. When Alendronic acid is taken by mouth, it can cause irritation and ulceration of the oesophagus. To minimise this risk, do not take the Alendronic acid tablet while lying down. Swallow the tablet with a full glass of water in the morning after getting up, at least 30 minutes before the first food or drink of the day. You should not eat or drink anything or lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking the Alendronic acid tablet. You can lie down after 30 minutes, but only if you have had something to eat.
Unless otherwise advised by a doctor, the usual dose in adults is one Alendronic acid 10 mg tablet once a day or one Alendronic acid 70 mg once a week. Alendronic acid is not suitable for children under the age of 18. Always follow the prescription exactly – never use more or less than the doctor recommends. Read the package leaflet before use.
The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with Alendronic acid:
- Pain in the bones, muscles or joints;
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as acid reflux, constipation, stomach ache or diarrhoea;
- Hair loss;
Consult a doctor if the side effects from taking Alendronic acid are severe. For more information, see the package leaflet.
When not to use Alendronic acid
Alendronic acid is not suitable for everyone and should not be used if:
- You are allergic to Alendronic acid or any other ingredient in this medicine;
- You cannot stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes;
- You have a disorder affecting the oesophagus;
- You have a low level of calcium in your blood (hypocalcaemia).
Use caution if you have a health condition that is not listed above or are currently taking medication. In this case, you should not use Alendronic acid without consulting a doctor first.
Do not take Alendronic acid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Alendronic acid may cause dizziness. Stay out of traffic if you experience this side effect. Alcohol irritates the stomach and oesophagus. Limit or stop drinking alcohol while taking this medicine as this is likely to worsen the side effects.