|How to Take Your Osteoporosis Medicine Correctly|
by Kevin Hwang, M.D.
Q. My rheumatologist prescribed Fosamax for the treatment of osteoporosis. I was instructed to take one pill, once a week. After about day five of the first week, I felt ill. It started out with a feeling of lethargy upon awakening in the morning and a sensation of turbulence in the area of my abdomen. Once out of bed, I felt nausea. After my second dose on day one of week two, the symptoms returned within a matter of hours. Is there an explanation?
Fosamax, along with Actonel, Boniva and others, is classified as a bisphosphonate. These medicines work by inhibiting bone removal. Unfortunately, while they’re excellent for treating osteoporosis, a well-known side effect is irritation of the esophagus and/or stomach. This may cause inflammation or an ulcer. Symptoms can include upper abdominal pain, heartburn and nausea.
Before you write it off completely, make sure you’re taking Fosamax correctly.
If you still have nausea, abdominal discomfort or heartburn when you follow those instructions, talk to your health-care provider about switching medications. (New or worsening heartburn, trouble swallowing and chest pain are some of the symptoms that should signal you to stop taking Fosamax immediately and contact your doctor.)
Recommendations may change, and this is not meant as individual advice. Please check the patient information provided with your medication to find out for sure how you should take it.
Article last updated and/or approved: March 2010. Original article appeared in summer 2007 former print magazine. Bio current as of summer 2007.
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