Theophylline General Information
Theophylline is used to treat and prevent wheezing and trouble breathing caused by ongoing lung disease (e.g., asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis). Theophylline belongs to a class of drugs known as xanthines. Theophylline works in the airways by relaxing muscles, opening air passages to improve breathing, and decreasing the lungs’ response to irritants. Controlling symptoms of breathing problems can decrease time lost from work or school. Theophylline does not work immediately and should not be used for sudden attacks of breathing trouble. Your doctor should prescribe a quick-relief medicine/inhaler (e.g., albuterol) for sudden attacks of shortness of breath/asthma while you are on Theophylline. You should always have a quick-relief inhaler with you. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
How to Use Theophylline
Take Theophylline by mouth with or without food, usually 3 to 4 times daily or as directed by your doctor. If Theophylline upsets your stomach, you may take it with food. Use a medication-measuring device to carefully measure the prescribed dose. Do not use a household spoon. Dosage is based on your medical condition, response to therapy, age, weight, drug blood levels, and other drugs you may be taking. (See also Drug Interactions section.) Use Theophylline regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day. Inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
Theophylline Possible Side Effects
Stomach pain/cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, headache, trouble sleeping, irritability, restlessness, nervousness, shaking, flushing, and increased urination may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that your doctor has prescribed Theophylline because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using Theophylline do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: confusion, dizziness, mental/mood changes, muscle twitching/pain/tenderness, weakness, rapid breathing. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: fainting, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, dark/tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, seizures. A very serious allergic reaction to Theophylline is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, red/scaly skin, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
Before using theophylline, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to aminophylline or oxtriphylline; or to theobromine or caffeine; or if you have any other allergies. Theophylline may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using Theophylline, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: a certain breathing disorder (cystic fibrosis), diabetes, glaucoma, heart problems (e.g., congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease (e.g., cirrhosis), seizures, stomach/intestinal ulcer, thyroid disease. Theophylline may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. If you develop a fever/flu-like symptoms while taking Theophylline, tell your doctor promptly. The dose of your medicine may need to be adjusted. Liquid preparations of Theophylline may contain sugar and/or alcohol. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence, or liver disease. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using Theophylline safely. Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking Theophylline. Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of Theophylline, especially fast/irregular heartbeat, or trouble sleeping. Careful monitoring of side effects and drug blood levels is recommended. Caution is advised when using Theophylline in children because they may be more sensitive to its effects. Careful monitoring of side effects, drug blood levels, and dose adjustment are recommended. During pregnancy, Theophylline should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Changes in your body during the last 3 months of pregnancy may affect the amount of Theophylline in your blood. Your doctor should carefully monitor the amount of drug in your blood, as well as any side effects, so that your dose may be changed if needed. Theophylline passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant (e.g., irritability). Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Theophylline Possible Interactions
Your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first. Before using Theophylline, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: adenosine, adrenaline-like drugs (e.g., ephedrine, phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine), allopurinol, aminoglutethimide, certain antiarrhythmic drugs (e.g., mexiletine, propafenone), anti-seizure drugs (e.g., carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam, flurazepam), certain beta-blockers (e.g., propranolol), birth control pills, cimetidine, digoxin, disulfiram, fluvoxamine, interferon, isoproterenol, moricizine, pentoxifylline, rifampin, riociguat, St John’s wort, sulfinpyrazone, tacrine, thiabendazole, ticlopidine, verapamil, zileuton. Check the labels on all your medicines (e.g., cough-and-cold products, diet aids) because they may contain ingredients that could increase the side effects of Theophylline. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely. Tobacco/marijuana smoking decreases blood levels of Theophylline. Tell your doctor if you smoke or have recently stopped smoking. Your dose of medication may need to be adjusted. Caffeine and alcohol can increase the side effects of Theophylline. Avoid drinking large amounts of beverages containing alcohol or caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea, colas) or eating large amounts of chocolate. Certain diets (e.g., high protein/low carbohydrate or high carbohydrate/low protein) may change the effect of theophylline. Tell your doctor if you are following a dietary plan or eat beef every day. The dose of your medicine may need to be adjusted. Theophylline is very similar to aminophylline and oxtriphylline. Do not take medications containing aminophylline or oxtriphylline while using theophylline. Theophylline may interfere with certain laboratory tests (e.g., blood sugar, cholesterol, uric acid, dipyridamole-thallium imaging tests), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use Theophylline. Laboratory tests for drug blood levels may be affected by other drugs/foods, possibly causing false test results. Tell laboratory personnel and all your doctors if you take or use any of the following products: caffeine, theobromine, chocolate, furosemide, sulfathiazole, phenylbutazone, probenecid, acetaminophen, cefazolin, cephalothin.
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