Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that is used to treat and prevent infections of the urinary tract. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Nitrofurantoin is also called Nifuran or Macrobid.
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What is nitrofurantoin?
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that is used to treat and prevent infections of the urinary tract, such as bladder infections. It works by killing or stopping the growth of the bugs that cause the infection. In people who get urinary tract infections often, nitrofurantoin can be used to prevent infections.
In New Zealand nitrofurantoin is available in 2 forms:
- immediate release tablets (Nifuran 50 mg and 100mg)
- slow release capsules (Macrobid 100 mg).
- The dose of nitrofurantoin will be different for different people. Your doctor will determine the correct dose for you, based on your condition.
- Always take your nitrofurantoin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much nitrofurantoin to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.
How to take nitrofurantoin
- Timing: Nitrofurantoin is best taken with food. Take each dose with food or milk. If taken on an empty stomach, it may cause stomach upset. Space your doses evenly throughout the day:
- Four times a day should ideally be taken four to six hours apart.
- Twice a day should be taken every 12 hours, in the morning and the evening.
- Once a day should be taken every night.
- Missed dose: If you forget to take nitrofurantoin, take it as soon as you remember, but if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
It is best to take the antibiotic for the number of days your doctor has told you to. Do not stop taking it, even if you feel your infection has cleared up. Talk to your doctor first.
Precautions – before taking nitrofurantoin
- Do you have any problems with the way your kidney or liver works?
- Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Do you have any breathing problems?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you have problems where your nerves cause pain or numbness (called peripheral neuropathy)?
- Have you have been told you have one of the following rare inherited conditions: porphyria or glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency?
If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor before you start taking nitrofurantoin. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.
Like all medicines nitrofurantoin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
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Nitrofurantoin may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting nitrofurantoin or before starting any new medicines.
- Nitrofurantoin New Zealand Formulary
- Antibiotics: choices for common infections BPAC, 2017
- Nitrofurantoin - Not Suitable In Renal Impairment Medsafe Prescriber Update 36(4): 51-52, December 2015
- Nitrofurantoin - Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks Long-Term? Medsafe Prescriber Update 33(2): 17-18, June 2012
- Nifuran Medsafe Datasheet