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Precautions and Warnings With Etidronate

Being aware of the precautions and warnings with etidronate before starting treatment can help minimize risks and ensure safe treatment. Before taking etidronate, let your healthcare provider know if you have kidney disease, severe diarrhea, or any allergies. You should not take etidronate if you are allergic to any active or inactive components of the medicine or have osteomalacia.

Etidronate: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking etidronate disodium (Didronel®) if you have:
  • Osteomalacia (soft bones due to a vitamin D deficiency)
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding
  • Planning to have a dental procedure.
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Warnings and Precautions for Etidronate

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking etidronate include the following:
  • In rare cases, bisphosphonates (including etidronate) have caused a condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw. This is a serious, possibly disfiguring problem in which the bone of the jaw dies. Often, there are symptoms (such as pain, infection, or loosening of the teeth), but sometimes there are no symptoms until a person notices exposed bone. This problem is most common when bisphosphonates are given by IV (but is still possible when these medications are taken orally). It seems that people who have dental procedures (such as a tooth extraction) are also at higher risk. Be sure to take good care of your mouth and teeth by seeing your dentist frequently. Let your healthcare provider know right away if you think you may have osteonecrosis of the jaw.
  • It is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D (either through your diet or by supplementation). Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for rebuilding bone and preventing further bone loss. Etidronate cannot work if you do not get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Etidronate may not be recommended for people with severe kidney disease.
  • Bisphosphonates (including etidronate) can cause extreme muscle or bone pain. This usually goes away once the medication is stopped.
  • Etidronate can cause weak or soft bones, which can lead to broken bones and other problems. This is most likely if the etidronate dosage is too high or if the drug is used continuously (it is meant to be used only for a specific length of time).
  • Etidronate can cause diarrhea. If you have severe diarrhea (from any cause), you may need to stop taking etidronate for awhile.
  • Etidronate can potentially interact with a number of medications (see Drug Interactions With Etidronate).
  • Etidronate is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy (see Didronel and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known whether etidronate passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Didronel and Breastfeeding).
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