Nitrofurantoin, sold under the trade name Macrobid among others, is an antibiotic used to treat bladder infections.
A course of nitrofurantoin tablets lasts for three days. You need to take one tablet in the morning and one in the evening. Nitrofurantoin works by killing the bacteria which cause bladder infections.
Because of increased antibiotic resistance, nitrofurantoin is now the recommended antibiotic for treating cystitis in the UK.
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How to take Nitrofurantoin
When treating cystitis with nitrofurantoin, you should take two tablets per day, normally one in the morning and one in the evening. Every tablet contains 100mg of the active ingredient nitrofurantoin. You should swallow each tablet whole with a drink of water and a meal or a glass of milk. The course will last three days, during which your symptoms should gradually improve.
Whether you are taking Macrobid, Macrodantin, Furadantin or generic nitrofurantoin tablets to cure your urine infection, you will usually take 1 tablet containing 100mg nitrofurantoin twice a day. Other ingredients include talc, lactose, sugar as well as carbopol and povidone. For a full list of ingredients, please read the patient leaflet of your nitrofurantoin tablets.
Most side effects associated with nitrofurantoin are mild and stop as soon as you stop taking the tablets.
The following side effects can occur:
- nausea and headache
- being sick and stomach ache
- skin rashes
- short-term hair loss
- inflammation of the salivary glands
- inflammation of the pancreas and fever
Very rarely some patients experience bruising, anemia, susceptibility to colds and other infections whilst taking nitrofurantoin.
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic frequently used to treat urinary tract infections, which are a common problem many women experience at some point in their lives. A course of nitrofurantoin usually involves taking one capsule twice a day for three days - you should notice a significant improvement to your symptoms within this time frame. If your symptoms persist or worsen, you require additional tests to establish why nitrofurantoin has failed to help.
Nitrofurantoin is the active ingredient in MacroBid. Nitrofurantoin tablets are also sold under the brand names Macrodantin and Furadantin and there are numerous generic versions of the antibiotic. Since all these tablets contain the same active ingredient, they work in the same way and are similarly effective.
Most women who suffer from UTI’s can benefit from taking the antibiotic nitrofurantoin but there are some exceptions. If you are allergic to nitrofurantoin, you should ask your doctor for an alternative treatment. If you are suffering from kidney disease or you are pregnant, you must consult your doctor prior to taking nitrofurantoin, as it may have harmful side effects for you.
Certain illnesses can mean you should abstain from using nitrofurantoin and similar antibiotics, this affects patients with porphyria and G6PD. Other conditions can require extra care when taking certain antibiotics, so if you are diabetic or suffering from weakness or anemia you must also speak to a doctor to confirm the best treatment option for you. The same goes for patients with illnesses affecting the lungs, liver or nervous system.
It is important that you take the correct dose. If you accidentally exceed the daily dosage, you should seek help immediately. Nitrofurantoin is only to be taken by the person it was prescribed to and needs to be stored out of the reach of children.
If you forget to take a dose of nitrofurantoin, you should take the tablet as soon as you remember. In case you have forgotten until it is time for the next dose, just take it as you normally would - do not double the dose.
- fever, chills, shortness of breath, cough
- headache, mood swings, blurred vision, confusion, drowsiness
If you experience any of these serious side effects, please seek medical help as soon as possible.
It is not uncommon for the colour of your urine to change while you are taking nitrofurantoin. This is normal and does not require medical attention.
For a complete list of all possible side effects please read the patient leaflet of your specific medication.
Nitrofurantoin interacts with the following types of medication:
- medicines used to treat gout
- medicines which slow down digestion
- medicines used to treat glaucoma (raised pressure in the eye)
- certain medicines used to make your urine less acidic
- oral contraceptives (“the pill”)
- typhoid vaccines
If you are unsure as to whether you are taking any of these, please consult your doctor before starting your course of nitrofurantoin.
Like some other antibiotics, nitrofurantoin can lower the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill. You need to take extra precautions while taking nitrofurantoin, ideally you should use a condom during the time of your treatment and for a week after taking the last tablet. Alternatively, you may consider using a diaphragm and spermicides.
There is no known interaction between nitrofurantoin and alcohol. You should, however, avoid alcohol while you are suffering from cystitis.
ADVANZ Pharma (2018). Nitrofurantoin 100mg capsules. EMC. [online] Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/428/smpc [accessed 28th February 2019].
BNF. Nitrofurantoin. NICE. [online] Available at: https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/nitrofurantoin.html [accessed 28th February 2019].
NHS (2018). Nitrofurantoin. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/nitrofurantoin/ [accessed 28th February 2019].