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NZ Formulary

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What does it do?

Nitrofurantoin is used to treat and prevent urine infections.

How should you take it?

Take nitrofurantoin regularly as directed. Take it with food and with a glass of water. Keep taking it until the course is finished, even if you start to feel better.
Slow-release capsule: Swallow it whole. Do not crush or chew it.

What if you forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as possible and continue as directed.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with nitrofurantoin including:

  • magnesium trisilicate (e.g. Quick-Eze®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Short of breath, persistent dry cough

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Reduced number of blood cells that fight infections in your body - symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat or generally feeling unwell

Numbness or tingling of the fingers or toes

Skin rash

Swollen lips, tongue, throat or face

Headache, changes in vision, pounding in one or both ears (may be intracranial hypertension)

Severe stomach pain

Tell your doctor immediately

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite

Tell your doctor if troublesome

Stomach upset

Take with food

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver problems, or if you have G6PD deficiency.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Nitrofurantoin may turn your urine to a dark yellow or brown colour.
  • Side effects such as lung problems are more likely if you take nitrofurantoin long-term to prevent infections. Check with your doctor how long you need it for. Tell your doctor if you develop a dry cough or shortness of breath.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. February 2021

For more general information about this sheet annd its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed