Before beginning treatment with nitrofurantoin, the doctor should be notified of any existing medical conditions, especially severe kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or anemia. Women are generally advised to avoid using this medication during the last month of pregnancy because of possible negative effects on the fetus. The doctor should also be made aware of any other medications the patient is taking, including herbal supplements, as nitrofurantoin may affect the effectiveness of some other medications.
Nitrofurantoin should be taken with food as well as a full glass of water in order to prevent complications such as stomach upset or other digestive side effects. If this drug is prescribed in liquid form, it may be mixed with water, juice, or milk in order to make it easier to take, although the entire mixture must be consumed right away. This medication must be taken exactly as prescribed in order to make sure all of the harmful bacteria has been eliminated, even if symptoms seem to be improving.
Side effects of using nitrofurantoin may include bloody or watery diarrhea, nausea, or loss of appetite. If these symptoms become severe or bothersome, a doctor should be consulted. Chest pain, coughing, or shortness of breath may be experienced by some patients. Other potential side effects may be fever, muscle pain, or becoming easily bruised. Pain, numbness, or tingling in the hands of feet may also develop.
Most side effects of nitrofurantoin are mild and do not cause a significant interruption of daily activities. If side effects worsen or become particularly bothersome, a doctor should be notified. Occasionally, a patient may develop a severe allergic reaction to this medication, and this should be considered a medical emergency. Possible signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling, particularly involving the face, mouth, and tongue. If these symptoms develop, the patient needs immediate medical attention, as this can rapidly become a life-threatening situation.