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Nitrofurantoin (Generic Macrobid)

What Is Nitrofurantoin?

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). It is classified as a nitrofuran antibiotic and is primarily sold under the brand name Macrobid.

It is also sold and marketed under other brand names such as Macrodantin, Furadantin, and Furamag.

Nitrofurantoin works by stopping bacteria from growing in the urinary tract and the bladder, which helps to combat infection.

This medication is available in tablets, capsules, and liquid suspension.

What Is Nitrofurantoin Used For?

Nitrofurantoin is used to treat many urinary tract infections such as cystitis, pyelonephritis, and acute uncomplicated UTIs. It is effective against many of the bacteria that can cause UTIs, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Nitrofurantoin specifically targets bacteria in the urinary tract, so its action is concentrated there which makes it effective against UTIs but not as useful for infections elsewhere in the body.

It is also commonly prescribed for preventing recurrent UTIs in women who have had more than two episodes in the past year.

How Does Nitrofurantoin Work?

Nitrofurantoin has a unique mechanism of action that distinguishes it from many other antibiotics.

After oral consumption, nitrofurantoin gets filtered out of your blood and is excreted into the urine, achieving high concentrations directly within the urinary tract. This ensures its primary action is localized to the urinary system, making it especially potent against UTIs.

Nitrofurantoin works by creating reactive substances inside bacterial cells. These substances harm the bacteria’s DNA, preventing them from growing and multiplying effectively.

What Are the Side Effects of Nitrofurantoin?

The most common side effects of taking nitrofurantoin are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dark yellow or brown urine

More serious and rare side effects may include:

  • Lung issues: Difficulty breathing, chills, fever, chest pain.
  • Liver problems: Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), severe nausea, severe stomach pain.
  • Nerve disorders: Numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet.
  • Hemolytic anemia: Fatigue, paleness, and rapid heartbeat.
  • Severe skin reactions: Rashes, itching, or more severe skin conditions.
  • Blood cell changes: Easy bruising, increased infections, excessive bleeding.
  • Vision changes: Due to inflammation of the optic nerve.
  • Pancreatitis: Severe abdominal pain.

The listed side effects are not all the possible side effects of taking nitrofurantoin. If you experience any serious symptoms while taking nitrofurantoin, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.

If you experience any lung issues such as difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Take Nitrofurantoin?

Just like with any prescription medication, it is important to follow all of your doctor’s instructions when taking nitrofurantoin.

  • It’s recommended to take nitrofurantoin with food to reduce the risk of stomach upset and to enhance the absorption of the drug
  • It is important to finish your entire course of medication. Even if you feel better, you should continue taking the medication until it is finished. If you stop too soon, the infection may return and be harder to treat.
  • If you’re taking nitrofurantoin in capsule form, swallow the capsule whole. Do not crush, break, or open the capsule.
  • If you miss a dose of Nitrofurantoin, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the time of your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
  • It should be stored at room temperature and away from moisture, heat, and light

Frequently Asked Questions About Nitrofurantoin

Is Nitrofurantoin Safe?

Nitrofurantoin is generally considered safe if it’s used as prescribed. But it may not be suitable for everyone and its safety depends on individual factors, appropriate use, and awareness of potential risks. You should speak with a healthcare provider about possible risks before starting a course of nitrofurantoin.

How Long Does It Take Nitrofurantoin to Clear a UTI?

When taking Nitrofurantoin it usually takes 2 to 3 days before UTI symptoms start to improve. It will take 5 to 7 days for the infection to clear.

The exact duration can vary based on the specific case, the severity of the infection, and individual factors. Some infections might require a longer duration of treatment, especially if they are more complicated or if the initial treatment is not effective.

Also is important to finish taking your course of medication even if you start feeling better after a few days, as the infection may return and be harder to treat.

Which Is Better for a UTI Amoxicillin or Nitrofurantoin?

Both Amoxicillin and Nitrofurantoin are antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). Which one is better for a UTI depends on several different factors such as the severity of your infection, any underlying medical conditions, and individual factors.

For uncomplicated UTIs, Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid) is the more frequent first choice. It is generally well tolerated, and it is effective against many bacteria that cause UTIs.

Is Macrobid a Strong Antibiotic for a UTI?

Yes, Macrobid is an effective antibiotic for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). It works by specifically targeting bacteria in the urinary tract, which makes it especially effective against UTIs.

What to Avoid While Taking Nitrofurantoin?

Like with most medications, there are a few things you should avoid while taking Nitrofurantoin. Such as:

  • Avoid taking any other medications without consulting a doctor first.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, as it may amplify some of the drug’s side effects
  • Avoid antacid or indigestion remedies containing magnesium trisilicate

To learn more about Nitrofurantoin and what to avoid while taking it, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

How Long Is Nitrofurantoin Prescribed for?

Nitrofurantoin is usually prescribed for 5 to 7 days when treating UTIs. The overall duration for which nitrofurantoin is prescribed will depend on the severity and type of infection being treated. You must finish your entire course of nitrofurantoin as prescribed by your doctor, even if you start to feel better.

Can You Get Nitrofurantoin Over-the-Counter?

No, Nitrofurantoin is a prescription medication and it is not available over-the-counter. To get Nitrofurantoin, you must get a prescription from a licensed doctor.

Can You Get a Nitrofurantoin Prescription Online From DrHouse?

Yes, you can get a prescription for Nitrofurantoin online from DrHouse. Our licensed physicians are able to evaluate your symptoms and medical history through our secure telemedicine platform and determine if a prescription for Nitrofurantoin is the right treatment option for you.

For more detailed information about nitrofurantoin, you can refer to the following sources:


The content on this page has been medically reviewed for accuracy and comprehensiveness by Amy Dougherty, FNP-BC, AGAC 

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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Frequently asked questions

  • Yes, you can get a new prescription or refill an existing one online through DrHouse. You just need to start a consultation with one of our licensed providers and they will be able to assess your needs and provide you with a prescription if necessary.

    Please note that the final decision always rests with the doctor based on their professional judgment and your health needs.

  • There are certain medications that cannot be prescribed online by DrHouse physicians due to safety reasons. These include controlled substances, such as opioids and other narcotics, as well as drugs with a high potential for abuse or dependence. DrHouse physicians also don’t prescribe Gabapentin, medical marijuana, muscle relaxants, and HRT medications.

  • With DrHouse getting a new prescription or a refill for your current Rx is a straightforward and quick process. All you need to do is follow a few easy steps:

    • Download the DrHouse telehealth app on your mobile device.
    • Create an account by providing basic information and medical history.
    • Start an on-demand virtual video consultation with one of our licensed physicians.
    • Discuss your medical needs and concerns with one of our physicians.
    • A doctor will review your medical history, symptoms, and current medications (if any) to determine if an online prescription is appropriate for you.
    • If a physician approves, they will electronically send a new prescription or refill request to the pharmacy of your choice.
    • Pick up your medication from the pharmacy.

    DrHouse makes it easy for you to get an online prescription from the comfort of your own home. No more waiting in line at the doctor’s office or pharmacy, and no need to take time off work to see a doctor. Our telehealth platform allows you to access quality medical care from anywhere with an internet connection.

    For more information about how our telehealth platform works visit our “How DrHouse Works” page.

  • During your virtual consultation with a DrHouse physician, you will have the opportunity to discuss your medical needs and concerns.

    The consultation will consist of a video call where a physician will assess your medical history and ask you questions about your symptoms and any other relevant information. This is to ensure that a physician has all the necessary information to make an informed decision about your prescription.

    You can also ask any questions or clarify any doubts you may have about your condition or medication. Our physicians are happy to address any concerns you may have.

    Once a physician has assessed your needs, they will determine if and what type of prescription is appropriate for you. If a new prescription or refill is approved, a doctor will send it electronically to your chosen pharmacy.

  • With our on-demand telehealth service, you have the opportunity to see the first available doctor in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. However, the exact consult time will depend on the complexity of your case and the thoroughness required by the healthcare provider to make an informed decision.

  • Absolutely, it is safe to get an online prescription from DrHouse. We are committed to ensuring the highest standards of patient safety and privacy.

    All our providers are highly qualified US-based physicians and often affiliated with major hospitals. They are board-certified and from the top U.S. medical schools with an average of 20 years of experience.

    We strictly adhere to HIPAA regulations, ensuring your personal and medical information is kept secure and confidential. Also, we comply with all applicable state and federal laws related to telehealth and the prescribing of medications.

    Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that your safety and privacy are our top priorities when you use DrHouse’s services.

  • DrHouse strives to provide accessible and affordable telehealth services. DrHouse urgent care, primary care, and specialist visits are $129 or your copay. This includes everything from your initial consultation through to the prescription of your medication.

    The cost of a doctor’s visit may be covered fully by your insurance. A typical copay is around $25. We recommend checking with your insurance provider to understand the extent of your coverage for telehealth services.

    To learn more about how much DrHouse costs, visit our pricing page

  • Yes, DrHouse accepts most major insurances, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Medicare. The extent of coverage may vary depending on your individual plan.

  • Our physicians are able to prescribe up to a 90-day prescription without labs for any previously prescribed medication if it’s medically appropriate and is not classified as a controlled substance.

    DrHouse physicians also don’t prescribe Gabapentin, medical marijuana, muscle relaxants, and HRT medications.

    DrHouse physicians use their medical judgment to determine whether to prescribe and the duration.

    In certain cases, the prescription may be limited to 30 days or less. There also may be a 12-month cap for some prescriptions without labs. For medications requiring annual monitoring (such as blood work or imaging), the maximum prescription limit is 90 days within a year without labs.

    DrHouse physicians can refer patients to labs for longer prescription periods or refills.