Nitrofurantoin

Nitrofurantoin

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic medication that fights against bacteria that could cause side effects, including raised temperature, sickness, and pain. Nitrofurantoin is used for the treatment of various conditions, usually associated with infections of the kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract. More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Patient Leaflet(s)

Nitrofurantoin is a medication known as an antibiotic. This substance can help to fight back against certain infections caused by bacteria in various parts of the body. Nitrofurantoin is commonly given for urinary tract infections and bladder infections.  

What is Nitrofurantoin? 

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic medication that fights against bacteria that could cause side effects, including raised temperature, sickness, and pain. Nitrofurantoin is used for the treatment of various conditions, usually associated with infections of the kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract.  

Nitrofurantoin is a very popular antibiotic for urinary infections because it is filtered out of the blood rapidly and into the urine. This means that the medicine can be more concentrated at the site of the infection. However, it also means that Nitrofurantoin won’t always work when treating other kinds of infection.  

Nitrofurantoin is a prescription only medication that comes in the forms of liquid, tablets, and capsules, depending on your treatment needs. You can also get Nitrofurantoin in different strengths.  

When is Nitrofurantoin used? 

Nitrofurantoin is used for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections, as well as kidney infections and bladder infections. Nitrofurantoin works by stopping bacteria from growing and multiplying in your body. It doesn’t work at treating common viral infections such as flu or a cold.  

You should only use Nitrofurantoin when it is prescribed to you by a doctor or consultant that has assessed your condition thoroughly. It is important to ensure that the bacteria you are treating is susceptible to Nitrofurantoin which could mean taking a urine sample into a lab for tests. As with many antibiotics, overexposure to Nitrofurantoin could mean that it stops working properly when you need it most.  

 Nitrofurantoin may be given in its liquid form for people who have trouble swallowing tablets, or children.  

How do you use Nitrofurantoin? 

Nitrofurantoin tablets or capsules will come with a patient leaflet that you can read before you begin using the medication. It is important to read this leaflet thoroughly, as it will provide information on how to use the substance and how to avoid dangerous side effects. When using Nitrofurantoin, make sure that you take the medication by mouth. You can take Nitrofurantoin with or without food depending on your preferences. Some people find that taking medication with food helps to settle their stomach.  

Nitrofurantoin is usually taken four times a day for the treatment of an infection, but it may also be given once per day to prevent infections. When taking Nitrofurantoin in tablet or capsule form, make sure that you swallow the medicine whole. Avoid using antacids which contain certain forms of magnesium when using Nitrofurantoin as it could prevent you from absorbing the medication properly.  

For the best effect, ensure that you take Nitrofurantoin at evenly spaced times throughout the day. When taking this medication to prevent infection, take it according to the directions provided in your patient leaflet. Do not skip a dose or stop taking this medication without approval from a medical professional. Seek help if you see new signs of an infection when taking Nitrofurantoin for prevention of infections.  

If you are taking Nitrofurantoin for the treatment of infection, make sure that you continue to take it until you finish the prescribed course. Even if your symptoms quickly start to get better, stopping using this medication too fast could allow the bacteria to continue growing which could lead to an infection relapse.  

What dosages are there? 

Your dosage will depend on your condition and the issue that you are trying to treat. If you are taking Nitrofurantoin for the prevention of a urinary tract infection, you will often be given a dose of one tablet between 50mg and 100mg per day.  

If you are taking Nitrofurantoin to treat a current urinary infection, then your doctor may ask you to take 50mg 4 times per day, or 100mg twice a day for a period of 3 to 7 days. Depending on the severity of the infection, your dosage may change. Nitrofurantoin will be given to children based on both their condition and their body weight.  

What are the side effects Nitrofurantoin? 

Medications can often cause unintended side effects alongside their intended effects. The results of taking Nitrofurantoin can include vomiting, a loss of appetite, headaches and nausea. You should take this medication with food if you are concerned that you will feel nauseous when using it.  

Nitrofurantoin can cause your urine to change color to a yellow or brown shade. This is not dangerous, but you should inform your doctor if you notice any blood in your urine. In rare circumstances, Nitrofurantoin can sometimes cause more severe side effects, including serious and possibly fatal lung problems.  

Nitrofurantoin can cause lung problems within the first month of treatment when you are taking Nitrofurantoin long term for the prevention of infections. You should get help if you develop symptoms that indicate a lung problem, including: 

  • Chest pain; 
  • Shortness of breath; 
  • Persistent cough; 
  • Joint or muscle pain and numbness of the peripheries. 
  • Purple or bluish skin. 

There are also other rare side effects that can occur when taking Nitrofurantoin, including signs of a new infection which include sore throat, easy bleeding or bruising, or changes in your mood or mental state. You may also get severe headaches or changes in your vision.  

In very rare conditions, Nitrofurantoin can sometimes cause serious liver disease and problems with the way that your nerves operate. Tell your doctor if you notice side effects that include very dark urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes, unusual feelings of fatigue, a pounding heartbeat, tingling or numbness in the legs or arms, or weakness in the muscles.  

Some antibiotics, including Nitrofurantoin can sometimes cause a rare and severe intestinal condition known as diarrhea clostridium-difficile. This condition can sometimes happen a while after you have stopped taking the treatment. If you notice very severe diarrhea that doesn’t stop or blood diarrhea then you should not take any medications intended to stop diarrhea as this could make your condition worse. Your risk of severe side effects is likely to increase the longer you continue to use Nitrofurantoin  

If you use this medication for prolonged or repeated periods of time, then you could also have an increased risk of oral thrush or yeast infections. If you do notice any strange discharge or white patches in your mouth, you should speak to a medical professional.  

A severe allergic reaction to Nitrofurantoin is very rare. However, you should always be aware of any signs of an allergic response so that you can seek medical attention immediately. Get medical help immediately if you notice signs of rash, itching, or swelling around the tongue, throat, or face.  

When shouldn’t you use Nitrofurantoin? 

Some people will be more prone to dangerous side effects when taking Nitrofurantoin than others. Before you begin using this medication, you should speak to a consultant and make sure that all of the questions you answer are answered as accurately as possible. Do not take Nitrofurantoin if you are allergic to it and make sure that your consultant is aware of any other medications that you may be allergic to. This substance should not be used if you are allergic to its inactive ingredients.  

Do not use Nitrofurantoin if you have any problems with the way that your kidneys operate, including severe kidney disease. You should also avoid this medication if you have a history of problems with your liver. Before using Nitrofurantoin make sure that your consultant is aware of your full medical history, including any history you have with certain blood disorders, as well as liver and kidney problems or lung diseases. Inform your consultant or doctor of nerve problems that you have had in the past, eye disease, and diabetes.  

Nitrofurantoin may cause certain vaccines with live bacteria contents to not work as well as they should. Make sure that your doctors are aware that you are using Nitrofurantoin when you have your vaccinations. Remember that kidney function can become less reliable as you get older, because of this, it might be more risky to take Nitrofurantoin when you’re at a certain age. Older adults may need to have extra monitoring to ensure that they are safe taking Nitrofurantoin  

Does Nitrofurantoin interact with other medications? 

Nitrofurantoin can sometimes interact with medications that you are using. It is important that your consultant or doctor is always aware of any other substances that you may be taking at the same time as Nitrofurantoin. Do not take any new drug without telling your consultant first, and ensure that they know about any prescription medications, over-the-counter substances, and other herbal remedies that you are using.  

Do not take Nitrofurantoin if you are using sulfinpyrazone.  

Remember that most antibiotics do not affect the hormonal birth control pill. However, a few antibiotics can change the way that your pill works. If you are concerned about taking Nitrofurantoin when using a hormonal contraceptive, ask your doctor or consultant about whether you should continue using other forms of contraception while you use Nitrofurantoin.  

Nitrofurantoin can affect the results of some blood glucose tests.  

Where can you buy Nitrofurantoin? 

Nitrofurantoin is available to purchase online through one of our partner pharmacies. You will need to submit a recent blood pressure reading. 

Can I get Nitrofurantoin without a prescription? 

Nitrofurantoin is a prescription only medication.  

Sources 

Drugs.com, online, 2020, “Nitrofurantoin”[Accessed 15th of January 2020], Available on: https://www.drugs.com/nitrofurantoin.html 

Medline plus, 2020, online, “Nitrofurantoin”  [Accessed 15th of January 2020], Available on: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682291.html 

NHS.uk, online, 2020, “Nitrofurantoin” [Accessed 15th of January 2020], Available on: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/nitrofurantoin/ 

Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.