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Nitrofurantoin

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Nitrofurantoin (also sold as “Macrobid”) is the best antibiotic treatment for cystitis. Nitrofurantoin works by killing the bacteria that cause bladder infections, and can clear up cystitis in 3 to 7 days.


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6 capsules (three day course) £25
6 capsules (for future use) £25
TestCard Bundle (TestCard + Treatment) £32.99

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About Nitrofurantoin
Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic medication that is used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), including cystitis. It works by killing bacteria that causes cystitis. Unlike many other antibiotics, a sufficient amount of nitrofurantoin is passed with your urine (pee). This is why it is highly effective in treating UTIs, as it works at the point of infection. 

What is nitrofurantoin used for?

Nitrofurantoin is a medication that is used to treat or stop certain UTIs, such as:
  • cystitis (infection of the bladder)
  • urethritis (infection of the urethra)
  • pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney)

What type of antibiotic is nitrofurantoin?

Nitrofurantoin belongs to a group of drugs known as nitrofuran antibiotics. Nitrofuran antibiotics can be used to stop the growth of some bacteria. 

What is Macrobid?

Macrobid is a brand of nitrofurantoin, which can be used to treat UTIs. Macrobid comes as a capsule with a hard gelatine capsule shell. 

Is Macrobid the same as nitrofurantoin?

Yes. Macrobid is a brand of nitrofurantoin.
Nitrofurantoin kills the bacteria by entering their cells and damaging their genetic material (DNA). This leaves the bacteria unable to repair themselves or to multiply and so clears up the infection.

How quickly does nitrofurantoin work?

Nitrofurantoin works quickly to treat UTIs, and will clear up most cases in 3 to 7 days. You should complete your course of nitrofurantoin even if your symptoms go away early, as it may not have killed off all the bacteria, which could cause infection again.

How effective is Macrobid?

Macrobid is highly effective at treating UTIs, and is the recommended antibiotic treatment for cystitis. Studies have shown that nitrofurantoin is effective in up to 97% of cases. 

How long should you take Macrobid for UTI before you feel better?

For many people who take Macrobid to treat their UTI, improvements can be seen within 24 hours of use. You may find that your symptoms go away after 3 days. If you feel your symptoms are not improving or getting worse, do not delay in seeing your doctor. And if you feel better before you have finished your course of antibiotics, you must still take the whole course as recommended by your doctor.

What if Macrobid does not work for your UTI?

While most people see positive results from Macrobid, it is not 100% effective. Factors such as antibiotic resistance may mean that a course of Macrobid may not clear up your UTI. If Macrobid does not work for your UTI, you should speak to a doctor, who can recommend different treatment.
How you take nitrofurantoin will depend on if you are treating a UTI or preventing one from happening. To treat a UTI you will usually need to take 100mg of modified-release nitrofurantoin twice each day, or 50mg 4 times each day if modified-release is not available.

To prevent UTIs in women who get them frequently, taking 50mg or 100mg each night may be advised. Or, you may take one dose every time you are exposed to a trigger. Your doctor will advise you what is best.

Some tips can help when taking nitrofurantoin, such as:
  • spacing your doses evenly during the day
  • taking nitrofurantoin with a snack or a meal to stop a stomach upset

How long can you take nitrofurantoin for?

Nitrofurantoin is usually taken for 3 to 7 days. To stop a UTI from coming back, you may need to take nitrofurantoin for longer. You must speak to your doctor before you take nitrofurantoin, so that they can advise on the best dose and length of treatment.

How long between Macrobid doses?

Macrobid should usually be taken twice each day. This should be done in the morning and before bed. Doses should be spaced 10 to 12 hours apart. 

How long does nitrofurantoin stay in your system?

Nitrofurantoin passes through your body very quickly, as it is quickly absorbed into the urine (pee). It will stay in your system for about 4-5 hours after taking it.
There are several ways you can get nitrofurantoin, whether it’s by visiting your GP or buying it online from a licensed and regulated seller.

Can I buy Nitrofurantoin online?

Yes. You can order nitrofurantoin online through a trusted seller, like Superdrug Online Doctor. You can place an order through our website, following the steps below:
  • Fill in a short questionnaire about your health.
  • Select your preferred treatment and pay.
  • One of our doctors will review your order and choose the right treatment.
  • Your medicine can be delivered the next day, or you can collect it at a Superdrug pharmacy.
  • If you have any questions, you can ask a doctor via your account.

How much is Nitrofurantoin?

For 6 capsules (3 day course) of Nitrofurantoin you will pay £25.

Can you get Nitrofurantoin over the counter?

Nitrofurantoin is a prescription-only antibiotic and therefore not available over the counter. You need a prescription to buy and take it, as it is important that a doctor checks whether you suffer from a bacterial infection that nitrofurantoin is effective for. Your prescribing doctor will also check whether the antibiotic is suitable for you based on your medical history.
Some people take nitrofurantoin to stop a UTI from coming back if they have recurrent infections. This means whether you have symptoms or if you are using nitrofurantoin to prevent symptoms, nitrofurantoin can be effective. You must speak to your doctor for advice about whether you need nitrofurantoin or not. 

How do I know if I have a UTI?

If you notice a burning sensation when you pee, or your pee looks cloudy, these are common signs of a UTI.

Other symptoms of a UTI include:
  • needing to pee more than usual
  • blood in your pee
  • peeing more often during the night
  • needing to pee urgently

How do I get tested for a UTI?

If you think you have UTI symptoms, or you need more advice, you can order our TestCard UTI Test. This is a straightforward at home test you can use to find out whether you have a UTI, which you can also buy alongside treatment. TestCard works with all kinds of mobile devices. Check the table below to see whether your phone works with this test.

iphone SE 2020 12  12 mini 12 Pro
  12 Pro Max 11 11 Pro 11 Pro Max 
  X XR  XS   XS Max
   8   8 Plus    
   7   7 Plus    
   6  6 S   6 Plus  
Samsung  Galaxy S8  Galaxy S7  Galaxy S6 Galaxy A5 
   Galaxy S9+  Galaxy S10+  Galaxy S20 Galaxy S20FE 
   Galaxy S20FE 5G Galaxy A51  Galaxy Note 10 Galaxy Note 20 5G 
  Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G      
Huawei  Mate 20 Lite      
Xiaomi  Mi 8      

Like any medicine, nitrofurantoin can cause side effects, but that does not mean everyone will get them. Nitrofurantoin has common, uncommon, and rare side effects. Some will be mild, others could be more serious. You can check the patient leaflet for full details. 

What are the side effects of Nitrofurantoin?

The common side effects of nitrofurantoin include:
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling sleepy
  • dizziness
Uncommon side effects of nitrofurantoin include:
  • burning or numbness in hands or feet
  • sore throat
  • unusual weakness or tiredness
  • blood in stools or urine (pee)
Rare side effects of nitrofurantoin include:
  • chest pain
  • high temperature
  • bleeding or bruising you cannot explain
If you have any concerning side effects, you must stop taking the medication and call for medical help right away. 

How long do side effects of Macrobid last?

Usually, side effects of Macrobid should go away within a couple of days. If you still have side effects after the treatment has finished, you must see a doctor straight away. 

What should I do if I get side effects?

If you have any rare side effects from nitrofurantoin, you must go to A&E or call for medical help right away. If you are feeling sick from taking nitrofurantoin, it may be best to avoid spicy or rich food, as well as take medicine with or after a snack or meal. Make sure you rest and drink lots of fluids if you get sick or have a headache from treatment.
While most people can take nitrofurantoin for a UTI, you should not take this medicine if you have:
  • chronic or severe kidney disease
  • problems peeing
  • history of liver problems or jaundice caused by nitrofurantoin 
  • anaemia or vitamin B deficiency, or some other blood disorders
  • diabetes

Can you take Nitrofurantoin when pregnant?

It is mostly safe to take nitrofurantoin during pregnancy, except during labour and delivery Nitrofurantoin goes straight into the urine (pee). This means very little of the antibiotic travels through to your baby. You must not take nitrofurantoin during labour, as there is a risk it can affect the baby’s blood.

Can you take Nitrofurantoin while breastfeeding?

If you are breastfeeding your baby, you should tell your doctor before you take nitrofurantoin. While only small amounts pass through to the breast milk, it is not right for all babies. It can affect the blood cells of babies with a certain condition. 

Can you take Nitrofurantoin while on your period?

Having a UTI does not affect your period directly. This means you are safe to use nitrofurantoin.

Can medications interact with Nitrofurantoin?

Yes. Some medications can affect the effectiveness of nitrofurantoin, such as:
  • antacids for indigestion (like Gaviscon)
  • medicines for gout
  • other antibiotics
  • other cystitis medications
You must talk to your doctor first before taking nitrofurantoin and tell them what medications you are taking. Some medicines may cause harmful levels of nitrofurantoin to build in your blood. 

Can you drink alcohol when taking Nitrofurantoin?

You can drink alcohol while taking nitrofurantoin. Although, if you have a UTI, it is best to not drink alcohol. Instead, you should drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria caused by the UTI.

Can you take paracetamol with Nitrofurantoin?

It is safe to take over the counter painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen while you take nitrofurantoin.
Antibiotic resistance (2020) World Health Organization [Accessed 26 July 2021]

Chest pain (2020) NHS Choices [Accessed 26 July 2021]

Cystitis (2019) NHS Choices [Accessed 26 July 2021]

Indigestion (2017) NHS [Accessed 26 July 2021]

Kidney Infection (2018) NHS [Accessed 25 July 2021]



Suffering from a urinary tract infection? (2021) CDC [Accessed 26 July 2021]