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Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic, used to treat symptoms of cystitis. It can also be used to treat a urinary tract infection and some types of kidney infection.
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What is Nitrofurantoin?

Nitrofurantoin (or Nitrofurantoin Macrocrystals) is an antibiotic medication, used to treat conditions such as cystitis and kidney infections. It’s also used to treat bladder infection and urinary tract infections (UTIs.) Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, caused by bacteria, and is often accompanied by inability to urinate or painful urination.

A urinary tract infection is an infection caused by bacteria of the urinary tract, which comprises the urethra, kidneys and bladder. A urinary tract infection is usually caused by sexual intercourse, so good sexual health practices can be very helpful to urinary tract infection prevention.

Nitrofurantoin is available on prescription only, and you must have a valid prescription before you purchase Nitrofurantoin. It’s also possible for us to supply it to you after an online assessment. Nitrofurantoin is available as a generic drug, or under the brand names Macrodantin, Macrobid, and Furadantin. Nitrofurantoin is available as capsules, tablets and as an oral suspension.

For more information on Nitrofurantoin, you can refer to the patient information leaflet here.

How it works

Nitrofurantoin is a antibiotic medication, primarily used to treat or prevent cystitis and urinary tract infections. This means that it works by killing the escherichia coli bacteria that is causing the infection. When you take Nitrofurantoin, your body will very quickly filter it out of your blood and into your urine.

Because Nitrofurantoin is designed to treat infections of the urinary tract, this means that it is concentrated at the site of infection and as a result is very effective at treating infections of the urinary tract. Excretion of the drug takes place through urination.

Nitrofurantoin usually begins to work very quickly, usually successfully treating a urinary infection within a few days. However, it is not suitable for any other type of bacterial infection, due to the way it is filtered out of the blood and into the bladder.

Before you take it

Nitrofurantoin can be taken by most adults and children. It is suitable for breastfeeding and pregnant women. However, it is best to first inform your doctor if you are breast feeding, because Nitrofurantoin may be unsuitable for some breastfed children. Nitrofurantoin passes into breast milk, but in negligible quantities that should not cause your baby any harm, and it is unlikely your baby will show any reaction to Nitrofurantoin.

You should not take Nitrofurantoin while breastfeeding if your baby has a condition called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD.) Your doctor will be able to advise you further.

You must not take Nitrofurantoin during labour and delivery, because there is a small chance that the medicine can pass through to the child’s blood. It is, however, safe for all other stages of pregnancy.

It is inadvisable to take some medicines alongside Nitrofurantoin, as Nitrofurantoin can interact with other medications. Drug interactions can be dangerous. You should inform your doctor before taking Nitrofurantoin if you are also taking any of the following:

  • Indigestion drugs such as antacids (in particular, those that contain magnesium trisilicate)
  • Over the counter cystitis medications
  • Probenecid and sulfinpyrazone for gout treatment
  • Any other type of antibiotics

It is very important that you take the full course of Nitrofurantoin prescribed to you. This will reduce the chance that your condition will return, and will help prevent developing antibiotic resistant bacteria. If you stop part-way through a course, even if you feel better, it’s possible that your infection may keep coming back.

If you do not start to feel better within three days, you must go to your doctor right away. You must also call your doctor or healthcare professional if you start to feel worse at any point. Nitrofurantoin is not long term medication and should not be used beyond six months unless specifically prescribed.

There is no risk that use of Nitrofurantoin will affect hormonal contraception. You are still protected from pregnancy by hormonal contraception such as implants, the contraceptive pill, patch or injections or an intrauterine device if you take Nitrofurantoin.

There is limited evidence to suggest that Nitrofurantoin may affect male fertility by slowing down sperm. However, this link is not yet proven, and if you have any concerns regarding this, you should speak with your doctor.

If you have recently received an oral typhoid vaccine, you must consult your doctor as this may affect the way Nitrofurantoin works. This does not apply to typhoid vaccines given by injection.

Taking this medicine may cause dizziness or drowsiness, so this drug should be used with caution before you are fully aware of how Nitrofurantoin affects you. It is, however, safe to drink alcohol while you are taking Nitrofurantoin.

If you have a severe kidney problem or renal impairment, including kidney disease, you should not take Nitrofurantoin and should speak to your doctor for further advice. If you have porphyria or glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD deficiency) Nitrofurantoin may be unsuitable for you. You must talk to your doctor before taking Nitrofurantoin if this applies to you. In very rare cases, it’s also possible for Nitrofurantoin to cause electrolyte imbalance, chronic active hepatitis and pulmonary reactions causing lupus-like syndrome, as well as cholestatic jaundice. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about this.

Dosage Instructions

The typical dose for adults to treat a urinary tract infection is 50 mg four times daily, or 100mg twice daily. If you have a more severe infection, a higher dose of up to 100 mg four times daily may be required. Your doctor will advise you if this is the case, and you must always follow the dosage instructions given by your doctor.

You must take this medicine for its full course of three days. If your symptoms do not improve, you must contact your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication any sooner, even if your symptoms improve. Continue taking the medication for three days.

You should spread your doses evenly throughout the day - every six hours for four doses or every twelve hours for two doses. Swallow your Nitrofurantoin tablets or capsules whole - do not crush, chew or suck them. Nitrofurantoin should be taken with food, as it can irritate an empty stomach. Older adults and elderly patients may require a lower dose of 25 mg.

Nitrofurantoin liquid is usually made up for you by your pharmacist. They will provide you with a spoon or syringe to ensure the correct dosage each time. If you have any questions about using Nitrofurantoin liquid, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Common Side Effects of Nitrofurantoin

It’s possible for Nitrofurantoin to cause serious allergic reactions in some patients. This is rare, but an allergic reaction is an emergency. You should immediately seek medical advice if you experience any of the following adverse reactions:

  • Skin rash - peeling, itching, blistering
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the throat or chest
  • Trouble speaking or slurred speech
  • Swelling of the face, including mouth, lips and throat

Nitrofurantoin can cause serious side effects in some people. You should ask your doctor for medical advice if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever or a high temperature
  • Numbness or weakness in certain parts of the body (this can indicate nerve problems)
  • Yellowing skin or the whites of your eyes (this can indicate liver problems)
  • Uncontrollable bleeding or unexplained bleeding
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pains
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chills or shivers

You may find that you experience more common possible side effects. These are normal and should go away on their own. If you are concerned, report side effects to your doctor or pharmacist. Possible related Nitrofurantoin side effects include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Lost appetite
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dark yellow or brown urine (this is normal and your urine will return to its usual colour when your course of Nitrofurantoin is completed)

For further information, including a full list of undesirable effects of Nitrofurantoin, please read the patient information leaflet. For medical advice about side effects, talk to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Nitrofurantoin suitable for children?

Yes. Nitrofurantoin is suitable for children to treat urinary tract infections, however it is unsuitable for children three months and under. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more advice.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Nitrofurantoin?

Yes. You can take Nitrofurantoin while pregnant. Do not take Nitrofurantoin during the last few weeks of pregnancy, during labour or childbirth, as there is a chance it can pass through to the baby’s blood. However, it is safe for all other stages of pregnancy. There is no need to inform your doctor if you plan to become pregnant.

Will Nitrofurantoin affect my contraception?

No. Nitrofurantoin will not affect hormonal contraception. However, if Nitrofurantoin causes excessive diarrhoea, this can potentially affect your contraception. You should speak with your doctor if you are concerned.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Nitrofurantoin, you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue taking your medication as normal. Never take more than one dose at the same time, and do not double up for a missed dose. Make sure your doses are evenly spaced.

What happens if I take too much?

Taking an extra dose of Nitrofurantoin is unlikely to cause you any problems. However, if you are concerned that you have taken an overdose, visit your local hospital or A&E department for assistance.

I have diabetes. Can I take Nitrofurantoin?

Yes, however be aware that Nitrofurantoin can cause false positive urine tests for glucose, indicating that there is glucose in your urine when there is not. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss an alternative method of testing glucose in your urine.

More Information
Dosage Instructions One tablet four times a day for 3 days.