Compare Nitrofurantoin vs. Bactrim

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Macrobid
(nitrofurantoin)

Bactrim
(sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim)

Treats urinary tract infections. Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) works best in young, otherwise healthy females. It shouldn't be used by children, the elderly, or people with kidney problems.Kills bacteria. Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim) is good for treating many bacterial infections and is available as a generic. However, you can be more likely to sunburn.
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Coupons for Nitrofurantoin
Best available price for 14 (100mg) capsules of nitrofurantoin
Coupons for Bactrim
Best available price for 20 (800mg/160mg) tablets of bactrim
Reviews & ratings
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Have you used Macrobid (nitrofurantoin)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Bactrim
59%
-3% worse vs. Nitrofurantoin
49%
-5% worse vs. Nitrofurantoin
22%
Same vs. Nitrofurantoin
473 reviews
Have you used Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Nausea 8%
  • Headache 6%
  • Gas 2%
More Nitrofurantoin side effects »

The Bactrim FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Bactrim side effects »
How it works
NitrofurantoinBactrim
Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) is an antibiotic. It's used to treat urinary tract infections by killing bacteria in the urine.Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim) is a combination antibiotic that contains sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. It kills bacteria.
Type of medication
NitrofurantoinBactrim
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for
NitrofurantoinBactrim
Risk factors for serious side effects
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Pregnant women
  • Newborn babies
  • History of kidney disease
  • History of liver disease
  • Long antibiotic treatment period
Detailed Macrobid (nitrofurantoin) risks & warnings »
  • Elderly
  • Taking other medicines that lower kidney function
Detailed Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Interactions
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Interacts with drugs like probenecid and sulfinpyrazone.
No interactions related info.
Food
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Take it with food (ideally breakfast and dinner) to prevent side effects and improve the drug's absorption.
No food related info.
Kidneys and liver
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) can cause significant kidney problems. Don't take it if you haven't been urinating often enough or have a history of kidney problems.
  • There have been reports of liver damage in people taking Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin). Your doctor will do some blood tests to make sure you don't have liver damage before taking this medication. Call your doctor immediately if you have pain in your abdomen, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, have dark urine, or light colored stool. All of these can be signs of changes to your liver.
  • Can't be used if you have kidney problems or don't urinate often (the medication could build up and cause toxicity).
  • Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim) can harm your kidneys, especially if you're taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Motrin or Advil or other medicines that also affect your kidneys. Make sure to drink plenty of water or fluids while you're taking Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim).
Upsides and benefits
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) works well to treat urinary tract infections.
  • Young and otherwise healthy females have the best results when taking Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin).
  • It's not too common, but you can get a test done that'll show if Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) will work for you.
  • Widely available as a generic product and in a variety of formulations (tablet, capsule, suspension).
  • Works well to treat many types of bacterial infections
Downsides and risks
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Shouldn't be used for a long period of time.
  • Can't be used in children under 12 years old.
  • Interacts with drugs like probenecid and sulfinpyrazone.
  • Can't be used if you have kidney problems or don't urinate often (the medication could build up and cause toxicity).
  • Makes you sensitive to the sun.
  • Can upset your stomach
  • Drink plenty of water or fluids to avoid harming your kidneys
  • May cause birth defects
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
NitrofurantoinBactrim
  • Take it with food (ideally breakfast and dinner) to prevent side effects and improve the drug's absorption.
  • Don't take it with antacids that contain magnesium.
  • It's common to feel better before you're supposed to stop taking Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin), but take it for the entire time your doctor prescribed it. Skipping doses or stopping early can lower the drug's effectiveness and increase the chance that the drug won't work as well next time.
  • Take Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim) exactly the way your doctor tells you.
  • Can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun or wear protection while under the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water or liquids while on Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim) to avoid harming your kidneys.
  • Can cause upset stomach.
  • Can cause an allergic reaction. Talk to your doctor if you notice skin rash or swelling of your face.
Learn more
More about NitrofurantoinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Macrobid (nitrofurantoin)?
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More about BactrimSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim)?
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