Written by: Nicki Hari
Medically Reviewed by: Dr Mateen Durrani – MBBS, DPM, MSc, BCPsych
Last Updated: February 3rd, 2023
It is known that consuming alcohol can increase the risk of potential side effects when taking many different medications and Nitrofurantoin is no exception.
Nitrofurantoin, also known as Macrobid, is a commonly prescribed antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections. While this medication is generally safe, there are some potential side effects and interactions that can occur when taken with alcohol. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the dangers of mixing alcohol and nitrofurantoin and explain why it’s important to understand the risks before taking this medication.
What is Nitrofurantoin?
Nitrofurantoin has been well established as one of the most effective treatments for urinary tract infections (UTIs) since its introduction in 1953. It belongs to a class of drugs called nitrofurans and works by killing the bacteria that cause an infection. Nitrofurantoin has low tissue penetration, meaning the body quickly filters the drug out of your bloodstream and straight to your pee after you take it. This enables the drug to be concentrated in the area of infection, your urinary tract.
Today, nitrofurantoin remains widely prescribed due to its potency and low rate of side effects and is generally considered safe for use for most patients.
What are the side effects of Nitrofurantoin?
When taking Nitrofurantoin, it’s possible to start experiencing nasty side effects, such as headaches, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting. These are considered to be common but there are also some rare side effects that you should be aware of when taking Nitrofurantoin.
Rare side effects of nitrofurantoin include:
- Liver damage
- Allergic reactions (such as hives or difficulty breathing)
- Mental/mood changes such as confusion
- Unusual thoughts or behaviour
- welling of the face, hands, feet or lower legs
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Chest pain
- Loss of bladder control
It is recommended to contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms and wait for further directions.
Can I drink alcohol while taking Nitrofurantoin?
No, it is advised that you should not drink alcohol while taking Nitrofurantoin. Alcohol can decrease the effectiveness of this antibiotic and can also increase the risk of side effects like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and headache.
Dangers of drinking alcohol while taking Nitrofurantoin
When it comes to UTI medication and alcohol consumption, caution is advised. Drinking alcohol while taking this medicine can cause potentially dangerous interactions that could risk your health. Because alcohol causes high acidity levels in your body, it could worsen your UTI symptoms, slowing the healing process.
It’s also important to remember that you are taking medication for an infection. When fighting an infection, the body can become dehydrated. Drinking alcohol whilst your body is in this state can only exacerbate the problem.
Although there are no known interactions between Nitrofurantoin and alcohol specifically, it’s still a UTI antibiotic and caution should be taken when mixing with alcohol. However, just because there are no known interactions between the two substances, it’s still important to know the potential side effects of mixing.
When combining alcohol and nitrofurantoin, it is important to note that this can result in a higher risk of adverse effects and exacerbation of the common side effects. Additionally, it’s important to be sure to follow all directions provided by your doctor when taking nitrofurantoin or any other medication.
To reduce the risk of adverse effects and to ensure you’re getting the best from the medicine, it is advised to avoid consuming alcohol while taking nitrofurantoin and for at least 48 hours after completing the course of treatment.
Taking into consideration this important information can ensure that nitrofurantoin will be used safely and with the best possible outcome.
If you or a loved one are struggling to stop drinking whilst on a prescribed course of Nitrofuratoin, it could be a sign of alcoholism. It’s best to educate yourself on alcohol addiction to know the signs and symptoms before taking prescribed medication.
What if I have alcohol dependency and am prescribed Nitrofurantoin?
Addiction to any substance can influence your health and day-to-day activities and it is essential to know the implications of taking certain medications. In particular, if you are addicted to alcohol and require treatment with Nitrofurantoin, then there are a few considerations that you should take into account.
Links between alcoholism and the rate of UTIs have been documented in the past. A study found that people suffering from alcohol dependency are more likely to experience UTIs than in comparison to sober people. If you are suffering from a UTI and taking Nitrofurantoin, the consumption of alcohol could exacerbate the symptoms.
It’s also important to note, that it is not recommended that someone with alcohol dependence take Nitrofurantoin, as alcohol can increase the risk of side effects from the medication, such as dizziness and drowsiness. If you have alcohol-dependence or have recently been drinking large amounts of alcohol, speak with your doctor before taking Nitrofurantoin.
What should I do if I have already consumed alcohol and Nitrofurantoin together?
If you have consumed alcohol and Nitrofurantoin together, the first step is not to panic. It would be beneficial if you refrained from drinking alcohol for the duration of the course, but if you accidentally have done so, it’s best to keep an eye on your symptoms.
While the risk of serious side effects from doing so is low, it is still possible that the combination could have adverse consequences. You should contact your healthcare provider and tell them about the situation, so they can determine what the best course of action would be for you.
It is important to understand the dangers of mixing alcohol and Nitrofurantoin. To avoid these risks, it is best to abstain from consuming alcohol while taking this medication. By educating yourself about the effects of this medication, you can ensure you are using it safely and that you are protecting yourself from the potential dangers associated with this drug.
If you have any further questions about mixing nitrofurantoin and alcohol together, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Primrose Lodge today.