What Is Nitrofurantoin Used For?
Depending on the particular product your healthcare provider recommends, nitrofurantoin can be used to treat or prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The prescription antibiotic works by destroying certain proteins and molecules within bacterial cells. At this time, there are no universally accepted "off-label" uses for this medication and its use in children is somewhat limited.
Nitrofurantoin (Furadantin®, Macrobid®, Macrodantin®) is a prescription antibiotic. Furadantin (the liquid form) and Macrodantin (the regular-release form) are both approved for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Macrobid (the slow-release capsule form) is approved only to treat UTIs, not prevent them.
Nitrofurantoin is used only for bladder infections -- not for kidney infections or other, more serious urinary tract infections. This medication is frequently prescribed for women of childbearing age, since it is generally considered appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Macrodantin and Pregnancy and Macrodantin and Breastfeeding for more information).
Nitrofurantoin works in a unique way, compared to other antibiotics. In bacterial cells, the drug is changed into a highly reactive form that destroys certain bacterial proteins and molecules. As a result, the drug interferes with bacteria's ability to make essential cell components such as protein, DNA, and cell walls.
Furadantin and Macrodantin are approved for use in children over the age of one month. Macrobid is approved only for individuals age 12 and older. Nitrofurantoin in any form should not be given to newborns (one month and younger), due to the risk of hemolytic anemia, a potentially dangerous condition involving the destruction of red blood cells.