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Forteo is the brand name for teriparatide, a man-made injectable form of parathyroid hormone that is used to manage osteoporosis in men and women who are at high risk of developing pathological fractures.

How Forteo works is by increasing the level of parathyroid hormone in the body which increases the bone density in affected individuals and this results in improved bone strength to help prevent fractures.

Forteo and its Effect on Weight

Forteo is not known to specifically cause weight gain in individuals using the medication. Since the medication is a synthetic form of the parathyroid hormone, which is a natural circulating protein in the body, it can affect certain processes and cause side effects similar to those caused by an increased amount of parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream.

One of the effects that Forteo has on the gastrointestinal system is that is may cause a decreased appetite. Therefore, it is more likely that the medication will result in weight loss rather than weight gain.

Patients who are using Forteo and are experiencing weight gain should discuss this issue with their doctors. This should be done to assess if the problem is caused by any other medications the patient may be using or any other underlying chronic condition. Weight gain may also be an indicator that the medication is not working effectively enough and this will have to be reviewed by the prescribing doctor.

Other Possible Side Effects

The following is a list of possible side effects that may be caused by Forteo:

  • Flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, coughing, or a runny nose.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Neck pains.
  • Leg cramps.
  • Generalized muscle spasms or cramps.
  • Generalized joint pains.
  • Diarrhea or constipation. Either one or the other may occur but the problems may also alternate.
  • Issues at the site of the injection such as pain, redness, itching, bruising, or swelling.

Serious side effects that will warrant consulting with a doctor or presenting to an emergency room include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, and difficulty with breathing.
  • Unusual or increased fatigue or tiredness.
  • A rapid or pounding heartbeat.
  • Fainting spells.
  • Mood swings or mental changes such as confusion.

Products and Drugs to Avoid while using Forteo

The risk of developing a side effect or adverse event when using Forteo increases when the medication is taken together with certain other products and medications. The following should, therefore, be avoided when using Forteo:

  • Sedatives such as benzodiazepines like diazepam as these can intensify the possible sedative effect of Forteo.
  • Tobacco products as these can reduce the mineral density in bones thus making pathological fractures more likely.
  • Alcohol as this can also reduce the density of bones.
  • Digitalis as Forteo can affect the efficacy of this medication.
In general, it is always advisable to notify the prescribing doctor of any other medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements that one may be using to avoid any undesirable interactions that may be caused if any of these products are taken together with Forteo. 

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