Nitrofurantoin vs Ciprofloxacin: Similarities, Dosages, Uses, More

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This article discusses Nitrofurantoin vs Ciprofloxacin, its similarities, differences, dosages, uses, and more information. Nitrofurantoin is effective against UTIs due to its mechanism of action and how it’s broken down in the body.

Several antibiotics treat a wide range of infections. Nitrofurantoin and Ciprofloxacin are strong antibiotics used to treat different bacterial infections. Nitrofurantoin specifically treats urinary tract infections caused by different types of bacteria, including Enterococcus, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter cystitis, and E. coli. Similarly, Ciprofloxacin is a potent antibiotic that treats a broader and more diverse range of bacterial infections.

Ciprofloxacin mainly treats bacterial infections that other antibiotics fail to eliminate. Children under 18 and patients with specific medical conditions should not use Ciprofloxacin unless instructed by a qualified medical expert.

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What is Ciprofloxacin?

Ciprofloxacin is a potent antibiotic prescribed to treat many types of bacterial infections. It hinders bacteria’s multiplication by inhibiting the reproduction and repair of their genetic material (DNA), leading to death.

This medication is in the fluoroquinolones class of antibiotics and is prescribed to eliminate bacteria when other antibiotics cannot.

Ciprofloxacin treats the following conditions:

  • Infections of the skin, lungs or airways, bones, joints, urinary tract,
  • Infectious diarrheas,
  • Anthrax
  • Intra-abdominal infections
  • Typhoid fever
  • Cervical and urethral gonorrhea
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis
  • Acute uncomplicated cystitis.

Other antibiotics in the same class include the following:

  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin),
  • Ofloxacin (Floxin),
  • Gatifloxacin (Tequin),
  • Norfloxacin (Noroxin),
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox),
  • Trovafloxacin (Trovan).

What is Nitrofurantoin?

Nitrofurantoin is a potent medication that fights bacteria in the body. Nitrofurantoin is primarily used to combat and prevent urinary tract infections caused by bacteria, including E. coli, Enterococcus, Klebsiella, Enterobacter cystitis, and Staphylococcus aureus.

Nitrofurantoin’s mechanism of action makes the drug highly effective against bacteria in the urinary tract system. It is quickly filtered out of the blood and funneled to the bladder, where its antimicrobial agents can combat and eliminate bacteria from the site of the infection.

Nitrofurantoin is available under brand names such as Macrodantin, Nitro Macro, and Macrobid. To avoid unwanted complications and resistance, it is essential only to use Nitrofurantoin as directed by your certified healthcare provider.

Nitrofurantoin vs Ciprofloxacin: Uses

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat infections caused by bacteria and parasites. There are several types of antibiotics with varying degrees of effectiveness against bacteria. Some antibiotics are highly effective against specific types of bacteria, while some treat a broader range of infections.

Nitrofurantoin and Ciprofloxacin are antibiotics used to combat bacterial infections. However, both medications work differently and are effective against different types of bacteria.

Ciprofloxacin Uses

Ciprofloxacin is usually prescribed to treat the following infections:

  • Prostate infections
  • Bone and joint infections
  • Abdominal infections
  • Lung infections (e.g., bronchitis, pneumonia)
  • Bladder infections and urinary tract infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin infections
  • Typhoid fever
  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Gonorrhea infections

Ciprofloxacin is also used to treat certain anthrax infections and plagues.

Depending on the cause of the infection, your healthcare expert may not recommend using Ciprofloxacin for the infections listed above. Ciprofloxacin may be less effective against bacteria that have developed resistance in some locations.

You should only use Ciprofloxacin as your doctor has directed.

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Nitrofurantoin Uses

Nitrofurantoin is primarily recommended to eliminate bacteria in the lower urinary tract. It eliminates infections caused by E. coli, Enterobacter cystitis, Enterococcus, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Nitrofurantoin only works against certain types of bacteria and should only be used after your doctor has examined your symptoms and diagnosed your condition.

Nitrofurantoin and Ciprofloxacin: Side effect

Let’s consider the side effects of Nitrofurantoin vs Ciprofloxacin. Both antibiotics are prescription medications and can only be acquired with a prescription from a healthcare provider.

Like all medications, both drugs can cause side effects to occur. It is essential to talk to your doctor before using antibiotics to avoid unwanted complications and side effects.

Ciprofloxacin side effects

Ciprofloxacin can cause some common and severe side effects. Some of the common side effects include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Rash

6 common side effects of Cipro for sinus infection

Sometimes, Ciprofloxacin may also cause severe and rare side effects. Some of these side effects include the following:

Tendon Problems: Ciprofloxacin can cause issues with tendons, including tendon rupture.

Nerve Damage: Some individuals may experience nerve-related symptoms, which can be permanent.

Mood or Behavior Changes: These can occur even after just one dose.

Low Blood Sugar: This can lead to coma.

Nitrofurantoin side effects

Nitrofurantoin can cause some common and severe side effects. Some of the common side effects include the following:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Numbness in your hands and feet
  • Pain in your hands and feet
  • Dizziness

9 common side effects of Nitrofurantoin

Nitrofurantoin and Ciprofloxacin Dosage

Ciprofloxacin Dosage

The dosage of Ciprofloxacin can vary depending on the specific condition being treated. Here are some typical dosages for different indications:

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs):

Adults: The usual single dose of ciprofloxacin tablets or liquid for UTIs is 250 mg to 750 mg taken twice daily.

Children: Doses are usually lower for children and should be determined by a doctor.

Skin Infections:

The recommended ciprofloxacin dosage for skin infections is 500 mg to 750 mg every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days.

Bone and Joint Infections:

The recommended dosage for bone and joint infections is 500 mg to 750 mg every 12 hours for up to 1 to 2 months.

Inhalational Anthrax (Postexposure):


IV: 400 mg IV every 12 hours or 500 mg orally every 12 hours for 60 days.

Children: Dose must be determined by a doctor.

Duration of Therapy: 60 days.

Therapy should be started immediately after suspected/confirmed exposure to aerosolized Bacillus anthracis.

Systemic Anthrax:


IV: 400 mg IV every 8 hours or 500 mg orally every 12 hours.

Duration of Antimicrobial Therapy:

With possible/confirmed meningitis: At least 2 to 3 weeks or until the patient is clinically stable (whichever is longer).

Remember always to follow your provider’s instructions regarding the dosage of Ciprofloxacin and the duration of treatment.

Nitrofurantoin dosage for uncomplicated Urinary tract infections

Nitrofurantoin is used to treat urinary tract infections caused by bacteria. The dosage required to eliminate infectious bacteria depends on the type and severity of the infection.

For adults between 18 and 64, 50–100 mg of Macrodantin four times daily is recommended. The length of the treatment depends on the infection. 100 mg of Macrobid every 12 hours for 7 days is similarly recommended.

For children between 12-17 years using Macrodantin, 5–7 mg per kg of body weight per day in four doses, and the length of treatment may vary. 100 mg of Macrobid every 12 hours for 7 days is also recommended.

Children between 1 month and 11 years should take Macrodantin and its generic form in 5–7 mg per kg of body weight per day in four doses; the length of treatment may vary. However, this medication is not typically used for children below 12 years unless vital.

For people 65 years of age and older, Nitrofurantoin may be processed slowly in the body due to renal impairment that comes with old age. This means the medication stays longer in the body, raising the risk of adverse reactions. Doctors usually start older patients on lowered doses or a different treatment schedule.

Nitrofurantoin and Ciprofloxacin Drug Interactions

Ciprofloxacin interactions

Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic, interacts with various other drugs and substances. The following are significant interactions to note:

Major Interactions:

  • Aspirin Low Strength (aspirin)
  • Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate)
  • Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim)
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • Claritin (loratadine)
  • CoQ10 (ubiquinone)
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Eliquis (apixaban)
  • Fish Oil (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids)
  • Flonase (fluticasone nasal)
  • Lasix (furosemide)
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)
  • Metoprolol Succinate ER (metoprolol)
  • Metoprolol Tartrate (metoprolol)
  • MiraLAX (polyethylene glycol 3350)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Norco (acetaminophen/hydrocodone)
  • Paracetamol (acetaminophen)
  • Probiotic Formula (bifidobacterium infantis / lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Singulair (montelukast)
  • Synthroid (levothyroxine)
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Zofran (ondansetron)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)

11 Drugs to Avoid When Using Ciprofloxacin

Moderate Interactions:

These interactions are moderately clinically significant. It’s advisable to avoid combinations unless necessary.

Examples include theophylline (Theo-24), iron salts (e.g., ferrous sulfate), warfarin (Coumadin), sevelamer (Renagel), antacids, milk, and orange juice.

Minor Interactions:

These interactions are minimally clinically significant. Risk can be minimized, and alternative drugs may be considered.

Nitrofurantoin interactions

Like other antibiotics, Nitrofurantoin can interact with other medications, herbs, vitamins, or food you may be taking. Before using Nitrofurantoin, inform your doctor about your medicines to avoid unwanted interactions or complications.

The following drugs are known to interact with Nitrofurantoin:

Antacids that contain magnesium trisilicate, such as Gaviscon. This medication can make Nitrofurantoin less effective.

Probenecid and sulfinpyrazone. Combining this medication with Nitrofurantoin may cause harmful levels of the antibiotic to build up in the blood, increasing the risk of severe side effects. At the same time, a reduced level of Nitrofurantoin in the urine means the medication will be less effective.

Can you use Nitrofurantoin during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Nitrofurantoin can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but there are essential considerations.

Nitrofurantoin is typically safe during pregnancy, but avoiding it in the third trimester is best.

Near-term pregnant women (38 to 42 weeks gestation) should not use Nitrofurantoin to avoid the risk of hemolytic anemia caused by immature erythrocyte enzyme systems in newborn babies. Nitrofurantoin can cause issues with a newborn baby’s blood cells, so doctors usually recommend an alternative antibiotic.

Pregnant women must consult their doctors for guidance before using Nitrofurantoin.

Nitrofurantoin passes into breast milk in minute quantities, so breastfeeding mothers can use it. It is improbable to cause side effects in the baby. However, breastfeeding mothers should only take Nitrofurantoin for a short while. Discuss with your healthcare provider if it is necessary to take more than a few weeks.

If your baby has jaundice, you should avoid Nitrofurantoin while breastfeeding. Symptoms of jaundice include pale stools, dark urine, and the yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin.

If your baby has glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, you should avoid Nitrifurantoin while breastfeeding. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a condition of the red blood cells.

Can you use Ciprofloxacin during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Unlike Nitrofurantoin, Ciprofloxacin is not typically recommended for oral use during pregnancy. However, using other Cipro forms, such as ear or eye drops, is acceptable.

Women trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant should consult their healthcare experts before using Ciprofloxacin. Your doctor will likely recommend another antibiotic as an alternative.

For breastfeeding women, Ciprofloxacin passes into breast milk in small quantities and will most likely not cause side effects in newborn babies.

If your baby starts to show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, oral thrush, skin rash, or feeding difficulties, stop using Ciprofloxacin immediately and let your doctor know.

Read also: Doxycycline and Flagyl

Frequently Asked Questions

Nitrofurantoin is considered a first-line treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections. However, Ciprofloxacin is also an effective treatment for urinary tract infections. Nitrofurantoin’s mechanism of action makes it highly effective against bacteria in the urinary tract system.

Nitrofurantoin is quickly absorbed, filtered from the blood, and funneled into the urine in the bladder. This gives the antibiotic medication the chance to fight the infectious bacteria at the site of the infection.

Ciprofloxacin inhibits bacterial genetic material (DNA) reproduction and repair, leading to death. This highlighted study, published in 2023, explores using Nitrofurantoin for uncomplicated UTIs in women. The author contributions include statistical analysis of the impact of dosing regimen, age, and renal function of the study population.

Ciprofloxacin is commonly used to treat UTIs, but its effectiveness depends on several factors. Here are some key points:

Ciprofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone-class antibiotic that inhibits the bacterial enzyme DNA gyrase, which is essential for DNA replication and repair.

By disrupting DNA processes, Ciprofloxacin prevents bacteria from multiplying and ultimately leads to their death.

Ciprofloxacin works against a wide range of bacteria, including both gram-negative and some gram-positive organisms.

It covers common UTI-causing bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Klebsiella, Proteus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Studies have shown that Ciprofloxacin is generally effective in treating uncomplicated UTIs.

However, its efficacy can vary based on factors like the specific bacteria causing the infection, local resistance patterns, and individual patient characteristics.

Ciprofloxacin is a generally safe antibiotic. However, it can cause side effects to occur. Some of the side effects include the following:

Tendon Rupture:

Ciprofloxacin may heighten the risk of tendon inflammation and rupture, especially in the Achilles tendon.

Nerve Damage

Rarely, Ciprofloxacin can cause nerve damage, leading to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning, or weakness in the arms or legs.

Allergic Reactions:

Some patients may develop allergic reactions to Ciprofloxacin. Symptoms include rash, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing.


Use sunscreen and protective clothing outdoors to prevent sunburn, as Cipro can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Liver and Kidney Function:

Ciprofloxacin may affect liver and kidney function.

Cardiovascular Effects:

In rare cases, Ciprofloxacin may cause irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). If you have a history of heart problems, inform your doctor.

Blood sugar Levels

Joint and Muscle Pain

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

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