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What Is Alendronate Used For?

Why Is Alendronate Used for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, which means "porous bone," is a disease characterized by low bone mass (bone thinning) that leads to fragile bones and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Men as well as women are affected by this condition. Fortunately, osteoporosis is a disease that can be prevented and treated.
Common causes of osteoporosis include:
  • Age-related bone loss
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Long-term corticosteroid use
  • Certain diseases.
Race and ethnicity may play a role in developing osteoporosis as well, but more research is needed to determine the connection.
Often, osteoporosis treatment is not started until a bone is broken, as there are usually no symptoms of osteoporosis. However, treatment may be started earlier if the disease is detected using a test (see Diagnosing Osteoporosis). In fact, some osteoporosis medications (including alendronate) can be used for osteoporosis prevention in people who are at high risk for developing the condition (see Risk Factors for Osteoporosis).

How Does Alendronate Work?

Alendronate, as mentioned, binds to certain cells in bones and slows down the rate at which they break down. Bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt, and the effects of alendronate often result in increased bone density.

Is Alendronate Used in Children?

Alendronate is not approved for use in children. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using the drug in children. Alendronate has been studied in children as a possible treatment for osteogenesis imperfecta, but has not been shown to be effective for this use.
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