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Medications Can Cause Bone Loss and Osteoporosis

Updated on December 27, 2009

What You Should Know About Medications

Many factors come into play as to who gets osteoporosis. Lifestyle is known to increase or decrease the risks of osteoporosis. People with sedentary lifestyles can be at a higher risk to develop the disease. Women are affected by bone loss more than men. People who have a family history of osteoporosis are much more likely to develop the disease than those where the disease is not present.

Every medication has possible side effects, and some medications can speed up bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Even medications prescribed to help relieve the pain from osteoporosis have side effects. Some of these medications cause heartburn, flu-like symptoms, or increase the bone pain associated with the disease. Sometimes, over-the-counter remedies can relieve these symptoms, or a change in the drug-type might be the answer. But, when a person needs medication, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Some medicines prescribed for osteoporosis, such as:

Bisphosphonates: This medication includes alendronate (Fosomax), risendronate (actonel), ibandronate (Boniva), as well as others. Some medications are taken orally, and can cause gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation of the esophagus and stomach. When this happens, many people have difficulty swallowing, recurring heartburn, or bone and joint pain. Drugs that are taken intravenously can cause temporary chills, sweats, aches or pains, and can be managed with non-prescription drugs, such as Tylenol.

Raloxifene (Evista): This medication to treat osteoporosin can increase the likelihood of blood clots in the leg or lung veins, and this risk in very low in people who are relatively healthy. However, other side effects that might be managed with over-the counter products are hot flashes, leg cramps, fluid retention, and mild flu-like symptoms.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): This type of medications are best for use in women who are experiencing menopause-related symptoms, such as hot flashes. Few, if any side effects are experienced by women that ingest HRT's for short periods of time. However, if the medication is taken for more at age sixty and beyond, some side effects can include increased risks of heart disease, blood clots, strokes, or breast cancer.

Teriparatide (Forteo): Commonly, this medication is prescribed for the treatment of severe osteoporosis, or people who have had fractures. Forteo should be taken for only two years (at most), and its side effects can include leg cramps, dizziness, muscle and joint pain, heart palpitations, high blood calcium levels.

Some medications can cause harmful effects to bones, especially if prescribed at high dosage levels or when taken over long periods of time. One of the most risky medications are steroids that might be prescribed to relieve inflammation from asthma or rheumatoid arthritis.

Bone loss can be caused by other medications, that can lead to osteoporosis. Some known medicines to elevate bone loss are:

Oral and high-dosage corticosteroids, such as prednisone when used for more than six months to treat problems associated with asthma, arthritis, and lupus.

Thyroid replacement medication, when the dosage is greater than the body actually needs. Thyroid levels should be monitored and checked annually.

Medicines used to treat seizures.

Medications used to treat endometriosis.

Some breast cancer treatments that include aromatase inhibitors.

Blood thinners, such as Heparin.

Some antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Bone loss increases the likelihood of suffering injuries from falls. Unfortunately, many fall injuries are irreversible and cause people to become immobile. Independent lifestyles can be forever lost to complications from falls. Osteoporosis is most common in older people, but many young women can be affected.

Taking the time to eliminate hazards in and around the home can help people to avoid falling accidents. Additionally, people who suffer from osteoporosis may opt to install home emergency systems or purchase wireless alarms. Getting help quickly can increase recovery chances from falling injuries.


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    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great post... very informative!