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Nitrofurantoin: Guide to This Common Urinary Tract Infection Antibiotic

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19 May, 2023
Unlocking the Potential of Nitrofurantoin: Uses, Dosage, and Precautions
Nitrofurantoin: Guide

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. One of the most frequently prescribed antibiotics for treating UTIs is nitrofurantoin. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the medical properties, uses, side effects, and contraindications of nitrofurantoin. We will also address frequently asked questions about this medication to provide you with a well-rounded understanding of this important antibiotic.

What is Nitrofurantoin?

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that has been used for more than six decades to treat and prevent UTIs. It is available in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, and liquid suspensions. Nitrofurantoin works by targeting bacteria that cause UTIs, preventing their growth and multiplication. This helps your immune system to clear the infection more effectively.

How is Nitrofurantoin Used?

Nitrofurantoin is typically prescribed for the treatment of acute lower UTIs caused by susceptible strains of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, and Enterococcus species. It can also be prescribed for the prevention of recurrent UTIs, particularly in those with a history of frequent infections. Nitrofurantoin is ineffective in treating viral infections such as the flu or common cold.

Side Effects

As with any medication, nitrofurantoin can cause side effects. Common side effects may include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite

  • Changes in taste

  • Dizziness

It is essential to contact your healthcare provider if you experience any severe or persistent side effects, as these could be signs of a more serious problem.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms while taking this medication.

  • Watery , bloody or severe diarrhea.

  • Sudden chest pain, discomfort, wheezing, dry cough, or hacking.

  • New or worsening cough and shortness of breath.

  • Symptoms of flu-like illness such as fever, chills, body aches, tiredness, and unexplained weight loss.

  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands or feet.

  • Signs of liver problems, such as nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

  • Lupus-like syndrome, a condition that shares symptoms with lupus, can cause joint pain or swelling accompanied by fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, chest pain, vomiting, unusual thoughts or behavior, and patchy skin color.

Contraindications and Precautions

Infectious doctor alert Warn various contraindications for patients.

Nitrofurantoin is not suitable for everyone. It is contraindicated in:

  • Patients with a known hypersensitivity to nitrofurantoin or its components
  • Individuals with impaired kidney function (kidney disease) (glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min)
  • Pregnant women at term (38-42 weeks of pregnancy) or during labor and delivery

In addition, caution should be exercised when prescribing nitrofurantoin to patients with certain medical conditions, such as lung diseases, liver disease, electrolyte imbalance or peripheral neuropathy.

Drug Interactions

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that is commonly used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) caused by certain types of bacteria. However, it’s important to note that this medication may interact with other drugs you’re taking, potentially causing adverse effects or reducing the effectiveness of either drug.

One of the most significant interactions of Nitrofurantoin is with magnesium trisilicate, a medication commonly used for heartburn and indigestion. When taken together, magnesium trisilicate can decrease the absorption of Nitrofurantoin, making it less effective at treating UTIs. Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid taking these two medications together.

Another potential interaction is with antacids that contain magnesium or aluminum, which can also reduce the absorption of Nitrofurantoin. To prevent this interaction, it’s best to take Nitrofurantoin at least 2 hours before or after taking antacids.

Additionally, Nitrofurantoin may interact with other antibiotics, such as rifampin and sulfonamides, which may increase the risk of side effects or reduce the effectiveness of either drug. If you’re taking other antibiotics, it’s important to inform your doctor to avoid any potential interactions.

Finally, Nitrofurantoin may interact with medications that affect the liver or kidney function, such as methotrexate, probenecid, and sulfinpyrazone, which may increase the risk of toxicity or reduce the effectiveness of either drug. Your doctor may need to adjust your dosage or monitor you more closely if you’re taking any of these medications.

If you’re taking Nitrofurantoin for a UTI or any other condition, it’s important to inform your doctor about any other medications or supplements you’re taking to avoid any potential drug interactions. Your doctor may need to adjust your dosage or recommend an alternative medication to avoid any adverse effects or reduce the risk of treatment failure.

Nitrofurantoin for Sexual Health

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic commonly used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) caused by certain types of bacteria. While it is not directly related to sexual health, untreated UTIs can sometimes lead to complications that may affect sexual health. For example, if left untreated, a UTI can spread to the kidneys and cause a kidney infection, which can lead to serious health problems if not treated promptly.

Additionally, some people may experience discomfort during sexual activity if they have a UTI, and treating the UTI with antibiotics like nitrofurantoin can help alleviate these symptoms.

It’s important to note that nitrofurantoin is not effective against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. If you are sexually active and at risk of STIs, it’s important to use protection such as condoms and to get regular STI screenings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How long does it take for nitrofurantoin to work?

A1: Nitrofurantoin may start to improve your condition in just a few days after you start taking it. However, it is crucial to complete the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed by your healthcare provider to ensure the infection is fully treated.

Q2: Can I drink alcohol while taking nitrofurantoin?

A2: It is generally safe to consume alcohol in moderation while taking nitrofurantoin. However, alcohol can worsen some side effects, such as dizziness and nausea. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about consuming alcohol during your treatment.

Q3: Is nitrofurantoin passed in breast milk?

A3: Nitrofurantoin is excreted into breast milk and can be passed on to a nursing infant. Therefore, caution is advised when using nitrofurantoin while breastfeeding. It’s important to consult with a doctor before taking nitrofurantoin if you’re breastfeeding, as they can weigh the potential benefits and risks and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Q4: What should I do if I miss a dose of nitrofurantoin?

A4: If you miss a dose of nitrofurantoin, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the missed one.

Q5: Can I take nitrofurantoin if I am allergic to penicillin?

A5: Yes, you can take nitrofurantoin if you are allergic to penicillin, as they belong to different classes of antibiotics. However, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider about your penicillin allergy, as well as any other allergies, before starting treatment with nitrofurantoin.

Q6: Can nitrofurantoin affect my birth control?

A6: Unlike some other antibiotics, nitrofurantoin is not known to reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, patch, or ring. However, if you experience vomiting or diarrhea while taking nitrofurantoin, the effectiveness of your birth control might be compromised. In such cases, use a backup method of contraception, like condoms, and consult your healthcare provider for advice.


Nitrofurantoin is a widely used and effective antibiotic for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections. While it is generally safe for most people, it is essential to understand its potential side effects, contraindications, and precautions. Always consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your medication or experience severe side effects. By staying informed and adhering to your prescribed treatment plan, you can help ensure a successful recovery from UTIs and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Disclaimer: Any information provided is for educational or informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions or concerns about a particular medication or treatment, please consult with a licensed healthcare provider who can evaluate your individual situation and provide personalized recommendations. It is important to always follow the instructions of your health care provider and read the medication label before taking any medication.

Sexual health is as important as physical and mental health. In most cases, one consultation can go a long way. Personalised, discreet, and judgement-free treatment at your fingertips – book an online consultation with one of Allo’s leading experts.