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Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections as well as bladder and kidney infections. 

If you have tested positive for a urinary tract infection or cystitis, you can order the antibiotics you need to treat it through our secure online service. Take our questionnaire to have your request reviewed by a GMC-registered doctor or GPhC-registered prescriber. 

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

26 April 2022
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 26 April 2022
Product information


Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic that contains an active ingredient of the same name. This medication comes in the form of tablets to be taken up to four times a day, depending upon your infection. You can take Nitrofurantoin in a tablet or liquid form. Nitrofurantoin is used to treat and prevent infections such as urinary tract, kidney and bladder infections. The medication was first sold in 1953, and is on the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicine which details the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.

At present, Nitrofurantoin is the first line treatment for urinary tract infections, meaning that this is the medicine that doctors will tend to prescribe, provided that it is suitable for the patient to take. You can buy Nitrofurantoin from our safe and secure pharmacy service to treat a urinary tract infection.

If Nitrofurantoin is not a suitable option to treat the infection (such as if the patient is allergic to one of the ingredients found in the medication), then a doctor may prescribe the next preferred treatment, Trimethoprim. 

How common are urinary tract infections (UTIs)?

Urinary tract infections such as cystitis are incredibly common for women in the UK. An estimated half of all UK women will be affected by a UTI at some point in their life. In any given year, approximately four million British women will suffer from a UTI, whereas 1 in 2,000 healthy men will develop one each year. However, anyone can contract urinary tract infections in their lifetime. It is important to treat a urinary tract infection as soon as possible. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems and even a stay in hospital. 

Symptoms of UTIs include: needing to pee more than usual, sudden urges to pee, pain while peeing, feeling tired and achy, feeling like you cannot fully empty your bladder, cloudy or foul-smelling urine, blood present in urine and pains in your stomach. 

UTIs are often caused by bacteria entering into the urethra. As women have a shorter urethra than men, they are more susceptible to UTIs as the bacteria can travel to the kidneys and bladder to cause infection. As an antibiotic, your body quickly filters out Nitrofurantoin through your blood and urine, so it is concentrated at the site of a urinary tract infection. 

Infections can clear up on their own after a few days. However, if you find that the infection is not going away, particularly after taking Nitrofurantoin, you should seek advice from your doctor. You should speak to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms while taking Nitrofurantoin: 

An itchy skin rash appears; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; swelling in your lips, tongue, face, mouth or throat.

You will need to take a test to determine that you are definitely suffering from a urinary tract infection, rather than something else. You can order a test kit through our online pharmacy service. We will need your test results before we can issue Nitrofurantoin medication. 

How to buy Nitrofurantoin online

Take our questionnaire to have your case reviewed by our doctor. They will issue a prescription enabling you to buy Nitrofurantoin from our pharmacy if the treatment is suitable. Once approved, your order will be dispensed from our GPhC-registered pharmacy in the UK and delivered by our next-day courier service.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022


When you use this medicine, make sure you follow the instructions provided by your prescriber, and that you read the information leaflet supplied. Doing so will help to lower the risk of potential side effects, and enable you to get the best out of your medicine.

The normal dosage for Nitrofurantoin will depend upon the type of infection you have. Please consult your doctor or pharmacist if the instructions are not clear. 

  1. For treatment of infections, take either one 50mg tablet four times a day for three days if you’re female, or one 50mg tablet four times a day for seven days if you’re male or are suffering from a more serious infection.
  2. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not chew or break the tablets.
  3. Take the tablet at meal times with food or drink to help with absorption and to avoid stomach upset. 
  4. Try to space out your intake of each tablet throughout the day.
  5. Do not exceed recommended dosage. 
  6. Should you take more than one tablet at a time, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately. 

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Nitrofurantoin 50mg (For Women)

Nitrofurantoin 50mg (For Men)

Side Effects & Warnings

Side effects

There can be side effects when using Nitrofurantoin but not everyone will experience them. Many of the possible side effects are mild and will disappear when your course of antibiotics has finished. However, there is a possibility that you can experience more serious side effects when using Nitrofurantoin. If this is the case, it is important for you to consult your doctor immediately. Further information can be found on the patient information leaflet. 

While taking Nitrofurantoin, your urine may become darker in colour. This is a normal side effect and is not a reason to stop taking the antibiotic. 

Very common (1 in 10 people or more):

Upset stomach. 

Common (1 in 100 people):

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness. 

Rare (affects 1 in 1,000 people or less):

Loss of consciousness (collapse). 

Other possible symptoms include:

Jaundice, raised pressure in the skull which causes severe headaches, short-term hair loss or inflammation of kidney tissue surrounding tubules which causes renal impairment. 

Please note that this is not a complete list of the potential side effects associated with this antibiotic. A more detailed list can be found on the patient information leaflet, or alternatively, you can ask your prescriber. If you notice any side effects or reactions to taking the medication, it is important that you seek advice from a medical professional as soon as possible. 


Taking it with other medications

You should inform your doctor of any medications you are currently taking, have recently taken or might have taken. 

Nitrofurantoin may react with the following medications: antacids, magnesium trisilicate, gout medication such as probenecid or sulfinpyrazone, atropine, hyoscine, acetazolamide, potassium citrate mixture, medicines known as quinolones that are taken for infections or if you have had a typhoid vaccination.

Conditions to look out for

Before you begin your course of antibiotic, you should let the prescriber know if you have a history of any medical conditions, including: porphyria, any conditions affecting your blood cells or blood, G6PD deficiency, diabetes, any illness causing severe weakness, anaemia, vitamin D deficiency, allergic reactions or kidney problems.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Do not take Nitrofurantoin if you are in the final stages of your pregnancy (labour or delivery). Please consult your doctor if you are pregnant, if you think you may be pregnant, trying to conceive or are breastfeeding before taking this medication as it may be unsafe to take. 

Driving and using machinery

Do not drive or operate machinery if you are affected by dizziness or drowsiness when taking Nitrofurantoin. 

Lactose/sucrose intolerance

Tell the subscriber if you have any sugar intolerances as Nitrofurantoin contains lactose. 

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Nitrofurantoin 50mg (For Women)

Nitrofurantoin 50mg (For Men)


Can I still drink alcohol?

Alcohol can interact with certain types of antibiotic. However, it is not thought to interact with Nitrofurantoin. You should consider lowering your alcohol intake as it is important to stay hydrated when you have a UTI. 

Can I still drive?

Your capacity to drive should not be affected when taking Nitrofurantoin. However, if you experience side effects such as dizziness, do not drive and speak to your doctor for advice.

Can I take it if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Nitrofurantoin should not be used in labour or delivery. We advise speaking to your doctor in person if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive as this antibiotic may not be suitable. 

How should I store it?

Store in a dry environment under 25°C and keep out of the reach of children. 

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

The active ingredient in the tablet is Nitrofurantoin. The tablet also contains: lactose, maize starch, pregelatinised maize starch, sodium starch glycollate and magnesium stearate. If you are lactose intolerant, please let the prescriber know. 

Is it available over the counter?

No. Nitrofurantoin is available to buy on prescription from a registered doctor.

How can I get Nitrofurantoin online?

You will need to take a test to confirm you have a urinary tract infection or cystitis in order to begin taking medication. You can upload your test results during our questionnaire if your test was taken at a GUM clinic or by a registered doctor. 

Nitrofurantoin is available to buy through our secure online service. Click ‘Buy now’ to proceed to our medical consultation and have your case reviewed by a registered doctor or prescriber. Orders that are approved will be dispensed at our UK pharmacy and shipped by tracked courier. 

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
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