nitrofurantoin, Macrodantin, Furadantin, Macrobid

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

GENERIC NAME: nitrofurantoin

BRAND NAMES: Macrodantin, Furadantin, Macrobid

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

USES: Nitrofurantoin is used to treat or prevent urinary tract infections.

SIDE EFFECTS: Common side effects include headache, rash, itching, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The macrocrystalline form (Macrodantin) appears to cause less stomach upset. Stomach upset also can be minimized by using a lower dose or by taking nitrofurantoin with food or milk.

Nitrofurantoin can cause serious lung injury. The reaction can occur within hours of the start of treatment if the patient has previously received nitrofurantoin, or within a few days of starting nitrofurantoin for the first time. Symptoms include:

In other persons, lung injury may occur after approximately a month of treatment. Symptoms include:

  • difficulty breathing,
  • rapid breathing, and
  • cough.

Fortunately, the symptoms usually resolve within a week if the medication is stopped. In other individuals, lung injury may not develop until after several months or years of therapy. Unless it is recognized and treated, this delayed lung injury can result in permanent lung damage that remains even after the drug is stopped.

Nitrofurantoin can also cause damage to the sensory nerves of the arms and legs (peripheral neuropathy), which can cause tingling in the extremities. The condition can become severe and is more likely to occur in people with diabetes, vitamin B deficiency, or general debilitation.

Reduced red blood cell count (anemia) by breaking red blood cells (hemolytic anemia) can occur from nitrofurantoin. This reaction occurs most frequently in persons with a deficiency of an enzyme called glucose--6-phosphate dehydrogenase that is very important to the survival of red blood cells.

Nitrofurantoin also can cause liver damage leading to jaundice or a form of hepatitis that can be fatal. Elevated liver enzymes indicate liver damage and are a reason to stop the drug.

Treatment with nitrofurantoin can cause urine to change color to a dark yellow or brown.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/29/2016
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