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Osteoporosis | Bone Density Concerns

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 Osteoporosis and Bone Density Concerns
I’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia. What can I expect while taking bone density medication?

Note: Other discussions regarding bone density can be found by searching on the site using the keywords “bone density,” “Fosamax,” and “Actonel.”

Osteopenia refers to low bone mineral density that is not yet low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. Everyone loses bone mass as they get older, so it is something to watch beginning in your thirties. Osteopenia can be treated with bone building medications before it develops into osteoporosis. Here are some comments by HysterSisters about their experiences taking Actonel, Fosamax, or other bone density treatments.

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“I have recently been diagnosed with osteopenia, and my doctor has prescribed the 5 mg. daily dose of Actonel. I have been taking it for two days so far, and I am not having any side effects with it at all, which is wonderful. I was very concerned about the acid reflux problems sometimes associated with bone building medications, as I already suffer this from eating certain foods, but so far so good. My doctor stressed the importance of not eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes after taking it and not lying down after taking it as well. I am also on 1500 mg. of calcium daily, as well as estrogen in gel form, which is applied to my upper arms daily. I am hopeful these will all help in building my bone mass, and prevent me from developing osteoporosis.”

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“I have now been on the 5mg. Actonel (daily) for exactly one month, and so far so good. The hardest part is having to wait the 30 minutes to have my coffee in the morning, as I guess morning is the best time to take it, but I have become used to the wait by now. I have noticed occasional reflux, but I’m not sure if it’s the Actonel, or perhaps the combination of Actonel and Zyban doing it, but it’s not happening too often. It is something I had before anyway once in awhile, but I do notice it a bit more now.”

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“I've been on bone-building meds for about a year now. I started out with the daily Actonel and switched to the once-a-week Fosamax when I learned about it. (Waiting one morning a week for coffee isn't as hard.) If you are having slight reflux, you might want to try Gaviscon. It's over-the-counter and comes in tablets as well as liquid. I warn you, though, that the tablets foam up when you chew them! So be sure to have a full glass of water handy. Since I have severe reflux, I take the liquid Gaviscon, plus Prevacid, every night. I also keep a bottle of the tablets in my desk at work for emergencies.”

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“I've been on Actonel 30 mg once a week for three weeks. This dose is not yet approved by the FDA for osteo, BUT it is used for Paget's disease (a bone disease) and is, in fact, prescribed by a lot of docs for osteo. My endocrinologist, who specializes in osteo, says the once-a-week dose of Actonel is LESS likely to cause GI issues than the daily 5 mg dose. He says this based on Fosamax studies, which show the weekly dose is better in that area. I already had GERD and GI problems beforehand. The first week after trying Actonel, I had severe constipation and stool that looked like spaghetti (sorry for the graphics). But that has eased a lot. There's some evidence of GERD and heartburn (which, frankly, the doc is a bit concerned about), but I'm hoping it will improve as the body adjusts.

I understand that you need LOADS of calcium (at least 1200 - 1500 mg daily) + vit D as these drugs take calcium from your system and put them into the bones. It's also important not to take calcium or antacids at the same time as the drug because they interfere with absorption. I wait at least five hours. I also remain standing for at least an hour after taking the Actonel, as that's better than sitting, according to the pharmacist. No big deal, I just read the newspaper standing up. I take eight ounces of plain water with the pill and continue to drink plain water afterwards.”

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“I didn't realize they made a once a week Actonel. I have been on the daily dose for almost three months and haven't had any problems with it. My biggest thing is having to wait 30 minutes for my coffee in the morning, but I saw my gyn Monday and she said I could switch to taking it a few hours after supper, provided I would be remaining up for another few hours after taking it. But I think I will probably stick to the morning dose, as it’s really not so bad, and I am used to it now. I just usually take it, drink my water, and come to HysterSysters for a half hour; then I have my coffee and get dressed for work.

I am on the high dose calcium daily as well. 1500 mg. and Vit D. I did read that this med should not be taken at the same time as the vitamins, so I usually take half my vitamins around 7:30 before leaving for work and the other half when I get home before eating. I haven’t had any problem with constipation with it so far. Mind you I am taking Magnesium along with the calcium, and that helps a lot with the constipation, as I tend to suffer from that a bit anyway.”

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“My pharmacist says that the longer you wait before taking food and meds, the better the Actonel absorbs. MOST of it is absorbed in the first 1/2 hour to hour, but there's more that can be absorbed within the first three hours. The longer you can hold out the better. That's another reason why the once-a-week dose is easier to deal with.”

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“I have been on Fosamax for a little over a year now and had another bone density test last week. The results show that I have made a slight improvement in the last year, and my doctor wants to keep me on the Fosamax. When I was diagnosed, I was told that the osteoporosis was pretty bad in my lower spine, so this is really good news, and it's worth the slight bit of discomfort that the Fosamax causes. I originally started out on Actonel but switched to the once a week pill that Fosamax came out with.”

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This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

07-16-2003 - 06:46 PM


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