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How Long Does Macrobid Take to Work?

If you're dealing with a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), you may be prescribed Macrobid, a popular antibiotic known for its effectiveness.

UTIs can cause discomfort during urination, cloudy urine, and a frequent urge to use the bathroom. While it might be tempting to wait and see, prompt treatment with Macrobid is essential. This antibiotic provides a fast solution, relieving discomfort and preventing serious complications such as the infection spreading to the bladder and kidneys.

How Long Do I Need to Take Macrobid For?

The administration of Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) is not one-size-fits-all, and the duration of treatment depends on various factors, including the type of infection and individual patient needs.

For Uncomplicated UTI:

NHS Guidelines: According to the NHS, the treatment duration for a urinary tract infection with Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid) can range from 3 to 7 days depending on the severity and type of infection.

For Prevention of UTI:

  • Preventing Recurrence: Some individuals may need to take Macrobid for several months to prevent recurrence of UTIs.
  • Pre-Surgery: If taking Nitrofurantoin to prevent an infection when having surgery, it's usually taken on the day of the operation and for the next 3 days..

Adhering to the prescribed course is extremely important. Not only does it quicken recovery, but it also prevents recurrence and the development of antimicrobial resistance, an escalating concern in the healthcare industry.

Always follow your doctor or pharmacist's advice, and the instructions that come with your medicine. Carry on taking this medicine until you finish the course, even if you feel better. If you stop your treatment early, your problem could come back. More information can be found in the PIL.

When Will My Symptoms Go Away?

While the medication does act rapidly and helps to alleviate symptoms within the first few days of usage, Macrobid will not treat a UTI within 24 hours. A complete cure requires a few days as the antibiotic works to eliminate the bacteria.

Should symptoms persist beyond 72 hours, consulting a healthcare professional is advised for further assessment.

While you may no longer experience symptoms, it’s important to finish the course as instructed by your healthcare provider. Some people may be required to take Macrobid for several months to prevent recurrence. You should continue to take it even when you feel better; this will help stop the infection coming back.

What Should I Do If Macrobid Does Not Work?

If the recommended dose of Macrobid does not work to clear the infection completely, you will need to consult your doctor for alternative treatment.

What Else Can I Do While Taking Macrobid to Treat a UTI?

It’s important to note that Macrobid typically works faster to clear infection in men than it does in women. This is due to anatomical differences; men have a larger urinary tract, which can facilitate quicker distribution of the antibiotic and more efficient elimination of bacteria. This leads to a more rapid resolution of the infection in men compared to women.

There are several home remedies that can be used alongside Macrobid that may help to alleviate symptoms:

  • Take paracetamol (up to 4 times daily) to ease pain and reduce high temperature. Paracetamol is typically preferred over NSAIDs (like Ibuprofen) for UTIs due to its lower risk of irritating the urinary tract.
  • During Macrobid treatment, abstain from sexual activity to prevent urinary tract irritation and optimise medication effectiveness.
  • Avoid scented bubble bath, soap, or talcum powder around the genital area. Opt for unscented varieties and choose showers over baths.
  • Urinate as soon as the urge arises and ensure your bladder is fully emptied each time.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluids daily (water, low-fat milk and sugar-free drinks are all acceptable) to stay well-hydrated.
  • Always wipe front to back after using the toilet to prevent bacteria from spreading.
  • Empty your bladder promptly after sexual activity.
  • Avoid diaphragms or condoms with spermicidal lubricants. If possible, choose alternate contraception methods.
  • Wear cotton underwear instead of synthetic materials like nylon.
  • Refrain from tight-fitting jeans and trousers for added comfort.

Is Cranberry Juice Effective in the Treatment of UTIs?

While cranberry juice has been traditionally considered a potential remedy for UTIs, scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness remains inconclusive. Some people take cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent UTIs from happening, which may help, but there's no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat a UTI if the infection has already started.

Antibiotics like Nitrofurantoin remain the primary solution for swift, effective UTI relief. Chronic UTIs can be hard to diagnose and may require long-term antibiotic treatment. If UTIs keep coming back, a GP may prescribe different treatments or refer to a specialist.


Macrobid is an effective treatment for UTIs, with a typical course lasting 5 to 7 days depending on the patient's needs. While it begins alleviating symptoms within the first few days, adherence to the prescribed course is essential for a complete cure. Whether for treatment or prevention, Macrobid offers a fast and tailored solution to UTIs, guided by healthcare provider's advice.


NHS, 2021. Common Questions About Nitrofurantoin.

NHS, 2021. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)., 2021. Patient Information Leaflet., 2021. Macrobid.

Authored & Reviewed By

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 24/08/2023 Reviewed on: 01/11/2023
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