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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking alendronate (Fosamax)?
Do not take an alendronate tablet if you cannot sit upright or stand for at least 30 minutes. Alendronate can cause serious problems in the stomach or esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach). You will need to stay upright for at least 30 minutes after taking this medication.
You should not take alendronate if you are allergic to it, or if you have low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia), or a problem with the movement of muscles in your esophagus.
To make sure you can safely take alendronate, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
Some people using medicines similar to alendronate have developed bone loss in the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw. Symptoms may include jaw pain, swelling, numbness, loose teeth, gum infection, or slow healing after injury or surgery involving the gums.
You may be more likely to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw if you have cancer or have been treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other conditions associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and dental surgery or pre-existing dental problems.
Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether alendronate will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
It is not known whether alendronate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How should I take alendronate (Fosamax)?
Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Alendronate tablets are taken either once each day or once each week.
Take the alendronate tablet first thing in the morning, at least 30 minutes before you eat or drink anything or take any other medicine. If you take an alendronate tablet only once a week, take it on the same day each week and always first thing in the morning.
Take each alendronate tablet with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of water. Use only plain water (not mineral water) when taking an alendronate tablet.
Do not crush, chew, or suck the alendronate tablet. Swallow the pill whole.
After taking an alendronate tablet, carefully follow these instructions:
To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your bone mineral density will need to be tested on a regular basis. Visit your doctor regularly.
If you need to have any dental work (especially surgery), tell the dentist ahead of time that you are using alendronate. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.
Alendronate is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet changes, exercise, and taking calcium and vitamin supplements. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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