Senior Health Home > Precautions and Warnings With Alendronate

Before starting treatment, it is important to understand the precautions and warnings with alendronate. For example, you may experience problems such as indigestion, heartburn, or ulcers while taking this drug. Also, alendronate can interact with a number of other medications. To ensure a safe, successful treatment process, talk to your healthcare provider about the precautions and warnings with alendronate that apply to you.

Alendronate: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking alendronate sodium (Fosamax®) if you have:
  • A narrowing of the esophagus (an esophageal stricture)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Low blood calcium (hypocalcemia)
  • An inability to sit upright or stand for 30 minutes
  • Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Difficulty swallowing or other problems with your esophagus
  • 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 medicines you may be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Alendronate

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking alendronate include the following:
  • In rare cases, bisphosphonates (including alendronate) 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. People who have dental procedures such as a tooth extraction seem to be 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.


  • There have been rare reports of unusual broken thigh bones in people taking bisphosphonate medications like alendronate. It is not yet clear if the medications are to blame, since the fractures could simply be due to osteoporosis or other factors. These fractures typically were not caused by trauma or injury. Let your healthcare provider know if you have unexplained groin or thigh pain, as these are sometimes signs of thigh fractures. 


  • Alendronate, like all bisphosphonate medications, can irritate or damage the esophagus and stomach. This can lead to indigestion, heartburn, or even ulcers. Let your healthcare provider know if you notice any of these problems while taking the drug.
  • It is important to closely follow the instructions for taking alendronate. Not doing so could increase your risk of side effects or may make the medication ineffective (see Alendronate Dosing for more information).
  • It is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D while taking alendronate, either through your diet or by supplementation. Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for rebuilding bone and preventing further bone loss. Alendronate cannot work if you do not get enough of these substances.
  • Alendronate may not be recommended for people with severe kidney disease.
  • Bisphosphonates (including alendronate) can cause extreme muscle or bone pain. This usually goes away once the medication is stopped.
  • Alendronate can potentially interact with a number of medications (see Drug Interactions With Alendronate).
  • Alendronate is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy (see Fosamax and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known whether alendronate 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 Fosamax and Breastfeeding).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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