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Medications > Alendronate (Fosamax) > Alendronate (Fosamax) Pictopamphlet

ALENDRONATE (Fosamax) [Al-en-DROW-nate]

How to use this medication

What is it

Alendronate is a medication used to treat and prevent thinning of the bones (called osteoporosis).

Take it once a day or once a week

Alendronate can be taken once a day as a 5 or 10 mg tablet. Alendronate can also be taken ONCE A WEEK as a 35 mg or 70 mg tablet.

Take it sitting up in the morning

Alendronate should be taken first thing in the morning. Do not lie down after taking the medicine.

No eating or drinking

Alendronate should be taken on an empty stomach. Wait at least 1 hour before taking any other medication or eating or drinking anything.

Take it with water only

Take alendronate with a full glass of water. Do not take it with coffee, juice or tea.

What you need to do

Take calcium and vitamin D

To help build your bones you should take calcium & vitamin D while taking alendronate. Your doctor will tell you the right amount of calcium and vitamin D for you.

Don’t get pregnant or breastfeed

Alendronate should not be taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Stop the medicine and let your doctor know if you become pregnant while taking alendronate.

Pain in the jaw

Medicines like alendronate have been associated with a very rare problem with the jaw (osteonecrosis). This problem has been seen after dental work. Let your doctor know if you develop sudden pain in the jaw.

Bone mineral density (BMD) testing

Your doctor will monitor your response to alendronate by testing your BMD.  This is usually done every 1 to 3 years.  Talk to your doctor.

Side effects & Important things to know

Nausea & Diarrhea

The most common side effect of alendronate is stomach upset, pain, bloating, and nausea.  Alendronate can irritate the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or intestine.  This is rare. It can result in stomach pain or trouble swallowing.


Alendronate can rarely cause a headache.

Muscle and bone pain

Alendronate can cause bone, muscle, or joint pain. This is rare.

When should I call my doctor

Please call if you need to stop

  • If you feel sick and want to stop
  • If you are concerned about any side effects
  • If you want to or have already stopped the medicine

Other Reasons to Call your Doctor:

Stomach pain or trouble swallowing

Pregnant or Planning Pregnancy

New severe pain in the jaw

If you are having surgery

Other important information

Stopping Alendronate

You can simply stop taking alendronate. You do not need to wean off it. Please call your doctor if you stop the medication.