Blog What to take for cystitis?
As we recently explored in our guide looking at how to treat cystitis, while it’s true that mild cases of cystitis will usually clear up within a few days without the need for prescription medication, more serious infections may require antibiotics. However, what are these drugs? How quickly do they work? And why are different antibiotics used for different people? In this guide, Access Doctor answers all of these questions and more as we explain your options when it comes to cystitis medication.   

What is nitrofurantoin used for?

Nitrofurantoin is a common antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), including cases of cystitis caused by a bacterial infection. Typically taken orally twice a day for at least a week, nitrofurantoin works by stopping harmful bacteria from growing, leading to symptom relief and the removal of infection. For this reason, it is important to note that nitrofurantoin is only useful in treating cases of cystitis caused by bacteria. It will not help clear up cystitis caused by other forms of bladder irritation, including bad reactions to certain medications or treatments.

Does nitrofurantoin contain penicillin?

No, nitrofurantoin is not part of the penicillin family of antibiotics. This means that it can be prescribed to patients that are allergic to penicillin.

How long does nitrofurantoin take to work on a UTI?

Nitrofurantoin gets to work quickly, meaning the symptoms of a UTI should start to improve after just a few days, before disappearing by the end of your course. However, even if you feel fully recovered after just a few days of taking nitrofurantoin, as is the case with all antibiotics, it is important to always finish the full course of your medication. Stopping half way through a course can increase your chances of developing an antibiotic-resistant UTI in the future.

What is trimethoprim?

Trimethoprim is an antibiotic, usually taken orally, that is used to treat bladder, urinary tract and kidney infections.Trimethoprim was once the first choice treatment for UTIs and bacterial cystitis. However, Public Health England now recommends nitrofurantoin as a first treatment option as the levels of resistance to trimethoprim have increased in recent years. That being said, in the vast majority of UTI cases (90%), trimethoprim is an effective antibiotic choice for UTIs.

Is trimethoprim a penicillin?

Like nitrofurantoin, trimethoprim does not contain penicillin. This makes it a safe option for those who have penicillin allergies.

How quickly does trimethoprim work?

As a rule, trimethoprim should help to ease symptoms within 24 hours, with the infection fully cleared up within five to seven days. If symptoms persist after this period, it’s important to visit your GP. Once again, it’s important to remember to always finish your full course of antibiotics. Stopping midway through a course could increase your chances of developing an antibiotic-resistant infection in the future.

Can you take trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin together?

While trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin can be taken together, it is unlikely that your GP or doctor will prescribe both at the same time to fight bacterial cystitis or another UTI. Nitrofurantoin will likely be given first and, in the rare case that your infection is resistant to nitrofurantoin, trimethoprim or another, stronger antibiotic will typically be prescribed.

Can you buy cystitis tablets over the counter?

If symptoms of cystitis have persisted for more than 24 hours, you should seek medical advice from your GP or a trained pharmacist as antibiotics may be required. Although antibiotics are prescription medicines and cannot be bought over the counter, you don’t have to fight to get a GP appointment when symptoms strike. If you want the convenience of ordering online, you can simply complete a consultation on our website. One of our independent General Pharmaceutical Council-registered prescribers will then review your consultation and once it has been approved, we will deliver your antibiotics straight to your door.

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