What is theophylline?

Theophylline is a bronchodilator. It works by relaxing muscles in the lungs and chest, and makes the lungs less sensitive to allergens and other causes of bronchospasm.

Theophylline is used to treat the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.

Theophylline may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Precautions

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to theophylline.

Before taking theophylline, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • a stomach ulcer;
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • a heart rhythm problem;
  • congestive heart failure;
  • fluid in your lungs;
  • underactive thyroid;
  • a high fever;
  • liver disease (such as cirrhosis or hepatitis);
  • kidney disease; or
  • if you have recently quit smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take theophylline.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Theophylline can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from theophylline.

Theophylline can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Avoid drinks or foods that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate. Caffeine may increase some of the side effects of theophylline.

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Instructions

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, tremors, restlessness, uneven heartbeats, and seizure (convulsions). Seizures caused by a theophylline overdose can cause death or permanent brain damage.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

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Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using theophylline and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • seizure (convulsions);
  • worsening of your condition, or symptoms of new illness;
  • severe or ongoing nausea and vomiting, headache, fast or uneven heart rate, and trouble sleeping (insomnia);
  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
  • ongoing fever;
  • feeling restless, irritable, nervous, or jittery.
  • tremors; or
  • urinating more than usual.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss;
  • restlessness, tremor, or insomnia; or
  • headache, lightheadedness, or dizziness.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Interactions

Before taking theophylline, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol);
  • cimetidine (Tagamet);
  • enoxacin (Penetrex);
  • ephedrine or similar medications found in cold medicine or diet pills;
  • erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Ery-Tab);
  • fluvoxamine (Luvox);
  • propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran);
  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane);
  • St. John's wort; or
  • thiabendazole (Mintezol).

This list is not complete and there are many other medicines that can interact with theophylline. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.

Other Names

Aerolate III, Aerolate JR, Aerolate SR, Aquaphyllin, Asmalix, Bronkodyl, Quibron-T, Quibron-T/SR, Respbid, Slo-Bid Gyrocaps, Slo-Phyllin, Slo-Phyllin 125, Slo-Phyllin 80, T-Phyl, Theo-24, Theo-Dur, Theo-Dur Sprinkles, Theo-Time, Theo-X, Theobid, Theocap, Theochron, Theoclear L.A.-130, Theoclear L.A.-260, Theoclear-80, Theolair, Theolair-SR, Theovent, Uni-Dur, Uniphyl, theophylline, Elixophyllin, TheoCap, and Truxophyllin

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Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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