Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and brittle due to a loss of mineral content. It is a progressive disease that generally affects people over the age of 50 and can lead to a decrease in bone mass, which can increase the risk of fractures. In the United States, 10 million people have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone mass, putting them at risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be treated with a variety of medications that increase bone density, reduce the risk of fractures, and help to slow the progression of the disease. However, these medications can also have serious side effects, so it is important to know which medications are considered the safest.
What Are the Different Types of Osteoporosis Medications?
The different types of medications used to treat osteoporosis can be divided into two categories: bisphosphonates and SERMs (selective estrogen receptor modulators). Bisphosphonates are the most commonly prescribed medications and include alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel). These medications work by slowing down the rate at which bones are broken down and increasing the rate at which new bone is formed. SERMs, such as raloxifene (Evista) and lasofoxifene (Fablyn), work by blocking the effects of estrogen on bones and increasing the amount of calcium absorbed from the diet. Another type of medication, called a strontium ranelate (Protelos) can also be prescribed; it works by increasing the amount of calcium in bones and decreasing the activity of osteoclasts, which are cells that break down bone.
What Are the Side Effects of the Different Osteoporosis Medications?
The side effects of the different osteoporosis medications vary, but can include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, and joint pain. Bisphosphonates can also cause heartburn, constipation, and stomach ulcers, and may also increase the risk of esophageal and jawbone fractures. SERMs can cause hot flashes, nausea, and leg cramps. Strontium ranelate can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and skin rash. All of these medications can also interact with other medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor about any other medications you may be taking.
Which Osteoporosis Medication Is Considered the Safest?
The safest osteoporosis medication will depend on your individual situation. Generally, bisphosphonates are considered to be the safest type of medication, as they have the fewest side effects and the lowest risk of serious complications. The most commonly prescribed bisphosphonate is alendronate, which is considered to be the safest and most effective medication for treating osteoporosis. SERMs are also considered to be safe, although they can cause side effects such as hot flashes and leg cramps. Strontium ranelate is a newer medication, and while it has been found to be effective in treating osteoporosis, it is not considered to be as safe as bisphosphonates or SERMs.
Are There Other Ways to Treat Osteoporosis?
In addition to medications, there are other ways to treat osteoporosis. These include lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise. In addition, calcium and vitamin D supplements can help to increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Finally, there are a number of alternative treatments that have been used to treat osteoporosis, such as acupuncture, massage, and herbs. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before trying any of these treatments, as they may not be suitable for everyone.
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and can lead to an increased risk of fractures. While medications are available to treat osteoporosis, it is important to know which ones are considered the safest. Generally, bisphosphonates are considered to be the safest type of medication, although SERMs and strontium ranelate are also effective. In addition to medications, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise can also help to reduce the risk of fractures. Finally, there are a number of alternative treatments that have been used to treat osteoporosis, such as acupuncture, massage, and herbs, although it is important to talk to your doctor before trying any of these treatments.