Nitrofurantoin is the generic name for a drug used to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections. The generic version is mostly the same as the brand name, including doses, side effects, precautions, contradictions, and functionality.
What is nitrofurantoin?
Nitrofurantoin is an FDA-approved antibiotic commonly used to treat UTIs. Some of the better-known brands of the drug are Macrobid, Macrodantin, and Furadantin.
Nitrofurantoin generic name is available in pill and capsule forms and attacks the bacteria in the urethra, bladder, or kidneys, causing the UTI.
Indications for Nitrofurantoin Use
When taking Nitrofurantoin, there are some specific guidelines to follow. First, ensure you have discussed how long an antibiotic dosage you will take with a doctor. Please do not take it longer than instructed or adjust the dosage yourself.
If you are feeling better before the specified time, continue to take the medication for the suggested time unless your doctor says otherwise. Do not skip doses.
Take Nitrofurantoin with food or milk to ensure the best absorption and reduce the likelihood of an upset stomach.
Swallow all pills and capsules whole. If a liquid form of the medication is taken, shake it before use. This will make sure the liquid is mixed correctly.
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Nitrofurantoin Forms and Dosages
There are multiple available forms of Nitrofurantoin. This includes liquid or nitrofurantoin macrocrystals and dual-release capsules known as macrocrystals-monohydrate.
Typical doses usually come in 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg. Oral suspension doses are generally 25 mg/5 mL.
Nitrofurantoin Generic Names vs. Brand Names
Since Nitrofurantoin is the generic version of brands such as Furadantin, Macrobid, and Macrodantin, it is designed with the same drug contents. This antibiotic should work the same while generally costing less money.
If a doctor prescribes one variation of the drug but you wonder if another variant may be a better fit for you, discuss this with a doctor before making any changes.
Nitrofurantoin Brand Variations
The three brand-name drugs for Nitrofurantoin are Furadantin, Macrobid, and Macrodantin. While they all contain the same drug – Nitrofurantoin – they are not all the same.
Nitrofurantoin was initially approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1953 with the brand name drug ‘Furadantin.”
This variation contained nitrofurantoin macrocrystals and was known to cause significant gastrointestinal side effects like nausea and vomiting. It was eventually pulled from the market.
Today we have Macrodantin and Macrobid. Macrobid includes Nitrofurantoin macrocrystalline and monohydrate, while Macrodantin contains only Nitrofurantoin microcrystalline.
Both are similarly effective, but Macrobid comes with less frequent doses and may be easier to tolerate than Macrodantin.
Macrobid is to be taken twice daily, and Macrodantin is to be taken four times daily.
Nitrofurantoin and Bacterial Infections
Nitrofurantoin capsules are designed to treat and prevent UTIs caused by certain bacteria. Not taking the drug as directed could interfere with this.
Suppose the drug is not taken as directed or is stopped from being taken altogether.
In that case, patients may experience the bacteria in their urinary tract infection becoming resistant to the drug.
Macrobid has also been linked to possible yeast infections.
Targeted Bacterial Spectrum
Nitrofurantoin is considered to have a limited spectrum of activity. It may have substantial effects against UTI-causing bacteria, but it is minimal.
It is only effective against a small amount of specific bacteria primarily affecting the urinary tract.
Since the bacteria nitrofurantoin is equipped to fight is so limited, it cannot treat other infections.
However, it also reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance in non-targeted bacteria and decreases the distribution of good gut flora.
Efficacy Against Common Infections
Nitrofurantoin can treat Some common uropathogens, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, and Enterococcus faecalis.
However, since Nitrofurantoin is limited, there are many other infections it may need to be better equipped to treat, including strains of proteus, Providencia, Morganella, Serratia, acinetobacter, and Pseudomonas.
These species are resistant. Other enterococci, including vancomycin-resistant strains, klebsiella, and enterobacter, may also be somewhat resistant depending on how complicated the infection may be.
Nitrofurantoin Generic Name
Nitrofurantoin should work the same, whether a generic or brand-name version.
The one main difference between the generic and brand-name versions of the antibiotic is that generic versions generally cost less.
Both contain an exact copy of the same active drug with no safety or effectiveness issues.
Nitrofurantoin Side Effects and Precautions
NItrofurantoin causes a range of side effects. Some are more common than others.
Common Side Effects
There are side effects to know about before taking Nitrofurantoin for UTIs. These include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, headache, hair loss, nerve pain, and liver damage.
Nausea and vomiting are commonly experienced. To avoid this, those taking the drug should take it with meals, eat bland foods, and make sure to keep hydrated.
This side effect is slightly less common in Macrobid than in the other forms. Loss of appetite is also possible but typically returns after you stop taking the drug.
Diarrhea is another common side effect that typically goes away after the user stops taking the drug.
Because Nitrofurantoin changes the microbiota in the gut, it may take a while for things to return to normal.
Some suggestions to minimize poor bowel movements are staying hydrated, using over-the-counter medications like loperamide, and eating bland and low-fiber foods.
Headaches are another common side effect of Nitrofurantoin. Staying full and hydrated helps avoid this. You can also take over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain.
Hair loss, nerve pain, lung damage, and liver damage are all rare side effects.
Precautions and Contraindications
There are some additional contradictions and precautions to take while on Nitrofurantoin. Before starting the UTI antibiotic, let your doctor know if you are allergic to the drug or have any other allergies.
Sometimes, severe reactions might occur. You should also let your doctor know about your medical history.
Some severe conditions are known to worsen while on Nitrofurantoin, including kidney disease, liver disease, certain genetic conditions, certain blood disorders, lung diseases, nerve issues, certain eye diseases, diabetes, mineral imbalances, and vitamin B deficiencies.
Also, ensure you don’t have one of these issues and have not been diagnosed.
If you take live bacterial vaccines like the typhoid vaccine, Nitrofurantoin may impact its effectiveness. Sometimes, there may even be an immunization to the vaccine.
There are a couple of other groups of people who should be particularly cautious – those who are pregnant and those who are older. Older people are known to be at a greater risk of experiencing severe side effects, such as nerve, liver, and lung issues.
Those who are pregnant should also make sure to talk to a doctor first before taking the medication, as the time during pregnancy it is taken may impact the child.
Read also: Nitrofurantoin for Kidney Infection
Nitrofurantoin in Pregnancy and Lactation
Improperly taking Nitrofurantoin while pregnant can lead to a variety of issues. It should only be used if necessary and approved by your healthcare provider.
Additionally, Nitrofurantoin should not be taken near the expected delivery date, generally weeks 38-42 of pregnancy.
Nitrofurantoin is sometimes safe to use when pregnant, but some considerations remain.
First, it is best to avoid taking the drug during the third trimester because it may impact the infant’s red blood cells.
Doing so may lead to hemolytic anemia – a rare type caused by a lack of red blood cells. Talk to a doctor about alternative methods of treating UTI.
If you are taking the medication during lactation, the drug may also enter the breast milk.
If the milk is given to infants, particularly those under one month old, they may develop a genetic condition known as a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.
This condition also affects red blood cells. In some cases, the infant may also develop jaundice.
Consultation with Healthcare Providers
Ensure you talk to your health care provider before and during taking Nitrofurantoin for urinary tract infections.
If you are pregnant or plan to be pregnant, make sure you also let your doctor know to avoid posing possible risks to the infant.
Notify your doctor if you plan to breastfeed after taking nitrofurantoin. If your doctor says your baby is healthy, you still may be allowed to breastfeed.
Additionally, if you have already taken the drug while pregnant and have concerns about the child, talk to the doctor.
Some signs of concern include an upset stomach or a fungal mouth infection known as oral thrush.
Tips for Taking Nitrofurantoin
While Nitrofurantoin has many side effects, there are also several tips for improving the experience.
Avoid taking Nitrofurantoin on an empty stomach – the drug is best to be taken with a meal, such as breakfast or dinner. This allows for better absorption and decreases the risk of side effects, such as nausea.
Follow your doctor’s instructions – taking the recommended dose for the recommended time can prevent resistant bacteria from developing.
Refrain from antacid or indigestion remedies – antacids often contain magnesium trisilicate, which can be problematic if taken simultaneously with Nitrofurantoin.
Only use Nitrofurantoin for treating intended UTI bacteria – the antibiotic does not treat other bacteria or infections caused by viruses.
Talk with a doctor if you begin to feel abnormal – some abnormal feelings include shortness of breath on exertion, a persistent cough, numbness, bloody stool, stomach cramps, fever, tingling, or loss of sensation in your fingers or toes.
Do not take Nitrofurantoin in the third trimester of pregnancy – this may harm the baby’s red blood cells.
Shake oral suspension versions well before use – make sure you also have measured the precise dose required. It may be mixed with other liquids such as water, milk, or juice to make consumption easier before swallowing.
Tell any health professional before taking any vaccines or laboratory tests – these may be affected by the drug.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant – Nitrofurantoin may harm the baby or breastfeeding if taken at the incorrect time.
Currently, Nitrofurantoin is available to be taken orally. Dosage forms include a pill or an oral suspension liquid form.
Dosages for adults are usually 100 mg twice daily for five to seven days. It is not generally recommended to prescribe Nitrofurantoin for less than five days.
A dose of 50 or 100 mg once daily at bedtime may be prescribed for long-term prevention of urinary tract infections.
The drug should generally be taken with food to help with absorption and side effects causing nausea. You should also remain hydrated while taking Nitrofurantoin.
Food and Drug Interactions
There is no specific food that should have a negative with Nitrofurantoin. However, bland foods are recommended if the medication upsets your digestive tract.
Some additional foods and drinks to avoid include large amounts of caffeinated beverages, artificial sweeteners, citrus, spicy foods, and acidic foods.
Make sure to always talk to your doctor before taking Nitrofurantoin with another drug.
Some known medicines that have a negative effect are antacids containing magnesium triplicate, probenecid, and sulfinpyrazone.
Antacids containing magnesium triplicate make Nitrofurantoin less effective for treating urinary tract infections.
Probenecid and sulfinpyrazone may allow for harmful amounts of Nitrofurantoin to build up within the blood, raising the risk of adverse reactions.
Reduced levels in the urine can also make the drug less effective for treating urinary tract infections.
When to see a Doctor
Before starting Nitrofurantoin, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider and let them know your medical history and any other medications you may be taking.
Make sure a doctor has been asked before you start taking the antibiotic. You should also talk to your doctor if you have any other questions or if something feels out of the ordinary during or after taking Nitrofurantoin.
Read also: Nitrofurantoin Dosage for UTI
Frequently Asked Questions
Nitrofurantoin is used to treat complicated urinary tract infections. If you have kidney problems while taking the drug, you are at increased risk for nerve damage.
If you have a kidney problem or a history of kidney problems, make sure to let your doctor know before starting the drug.
It is not typically recommended to be taken to treat kidney infection, as it may cause adverse effects.
Macrobid is designed to help treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections and is typically not recommended for treating kidney disease, but this evidence is minimal.
One of the clinical trials found older adults with impaired kidney function who were treated with the drug were not at greater risk of and were less likely to experience hospitalization for worsening kidney function.
Talk to your doctor before taking the drug for kidney infections.
Nitrofurantoin is a moderately strong antibiotic. Although it has limited capabilities, it treats uncomplicated UTIs well.
Nitrofurantoin causes various side effects, including nausea, headache, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, stomach pain, dizziness, drowsiness, itchiness, fever, chills, and nerve damage.
Some more severe side effects include severe allergic reactions, trouble breathing, and liver problems.
Generic Nitrofurantoin includes the same active drug as the brand name versions, such as Macrobid, Macrodantin, and Furadantin. It is known to be just as effective and have the same side effects.
The main difference is that the Nitrofurantoin generic name brands typically cost less.
Nitrofurantoin is used to treat and prevent uncomplicated UTIs.