Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic which is used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs such as cystitis). UTIs occur when bacteria enters through the urethra into the bladder and begin to multiply. They mainly affect women as the female urethra is shorter, making it easier for bacteria to travel from the urethra to the bladder and cause an infection.
When you take Nitrofurantoin it is filtered out of your blood and into the urine. It works by damaging the cells within the bacteria causing the infection. This stops them from being able to repair or multiply, eventually killing them off and clearing up the infection.
Nitrofurantoin will start to work within a few days. The length of treatment is usually 3-7 days. It's important to keep taking the medicine for the length of time prescribed by your doctor to ensure that the infection has been adequately treated.
Each capsule contains 50 or 100mg of Nitrofurantoin as the active ingredient.
The additional ingredients in the medication are lactose, maize starch, pregelatinised maize starch, sodium starch glycollate and magnesium stearate.
Please Note: Different generic brands of Nitrofurantoin may contain different inactive ingredients.
Always use Nitrofurantoin as instructed by your doctor. The dose and frequency you take will depend on the type of infection you have. The standard dose to treat a UTI is 200mg a day which is split into either two or four tablets each day. Your tablets should be evenly spaced throughout the day, leaving at least 12 hours between your morning and nighttime dose if you are taking two lots of 100mg per day. Your treatment will last for 3-7 days and it is important that you finish the course of antibiotics given to make sure the infection is treated effectively and will not resurface.
You should start taking Nitrofurantoin as soon as possible, as prescribed by your doctor. If you are taking it twice a day, then leave 12 hours between your doses. For example, if you take your morning tablet at 9am then wait until 9pm to take your evening one.
It's important to keep taking Nitrofurantoin even if your symptoms appear to have disappeared and you are feeling better. If you stop taking it before you are supposed to then this leaves you at risk of the infection returning.
If you take a double dose of Nitrofurantoin then it is unlikely to cause an adverse effect. If you have taken more than two, speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice. Even if you don't experience any side effects, if you are worried then reach out for advice.
Common side effects include:
If you experience dark coloured urine, this is normal and not something to worry about.
Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following side effects:
Before taking Nitrofurantoin inform your doctor if:
Always inform your doctor of any other medications you are taking. In particular if you are taking:
Drink plenty of water and make sure you stay hydrated if you experience headaches or sickness. You can take over the counter painkillers like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen to clear up a headache and make sure you get enough rest if you get sick or have diarrhea. If you get dizzy spells then sit or lie down until it passes and do not overexert yourself while you are feeling lightheaded or unwell. Taking Nitrofurantoin with food can help to ease nausea, as can eating smaller meals, avoiding anything too rich or spicy.
Nitrofurantoin has not been shown to affect fertility in either women or men. If you are planning to get pregnant, then discuss this with your doctor before taking Nitrofurantoin to ensure the treatment is suitable for you.
You can drink alcohol with Nitrofurantoin without it having an adverse effect.
Taking Nitrofurantoin for a prolonged period of time can cause thrush. This is because the antibiotic destroys the bacteria present in the body which protects you from developing thrush, leaving you at risk of developing it. This won't happen for a standard 3-7 day treatment, only if you are taking it over a longer time period, for example if your UTI keeps returning. If you experience symptoms of thrush then seek treatment from your doctor or pharmacist, letting them know that you are taking Nitrofurantoin for a urinary tract infection.
Nitrofurantoin is safe to use during pregnancy. The antibiotic is directed to the urine and does not pass through the bloodstream.
There are some things you can do to help prevent a UTI. These include: staying hydrated to keep your urine healthy, which will help to flush out bacteria; wiping from front to back after using the toilet and urinating after sexual intercourse to empty the bladder. Contraceptive methods which use spermicide can encourage bacteria growth, as can using perfumed feminine washes, powders or sprays around the genitals.
Other medications which may be given to treat a UTI include Trimethoprim, Fosfomycin, Cephalexin and Ceftriaxone.
Macrobid is a brand name of Nitrofurantoin which is the generic name for the antibiotic. Both medicines work in the same way to treat infections of the bladder.
There is no evidence to suggest that drinking cranberry juice can have an effect on Nitrofurantoin or help to ease the symptoms of a UTI.
Men are likely to be given a different type of antibiotic to treat a UTI. This is because the dose of Nitrofurantoin received into the male urethra is too low for it to effectively treat the infection. Treatment for a male UTI is usually longer than for women.
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic. It works in a different way to many other types of antibiotic as it is directed straight to the urine rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Nitrofurantoin cannot be used to treat a different type of infection. Due to the way it works, Nitrofurantoin is only suitable for a UTI as it is filtered out of the blood and directly into the urine.
Nitrofurantoin may be used to treat a kidney infection but it is not always effective as it is designed specifically for clearing up urinary tract infections. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and the severity of your infection before prescribing you with the appropriate medication.