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Theophylline

Pronunciation

Generic Name: theophylline (thee-OF-i-lin)
Brand Name: Quibron-T

Theophylline is used for:

Preventing and treating symptoms and blockage of airway due to asthma or other lung diseases (eg, emphysema, bronchitis). It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Theophylline is a xanthine derivative. It works by relaxing the muscle around the airways in the lungs, which allows them to widen and makes breathing easier. It also improves contraction of the diaphragm (the major breathing muscle) and decreases the response of the airways to irritants.

Do NOT use theophylline if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in theophylline, similar medicines (eg, aminophylline), or xanthines (eg, caffeine, chocolate)
  • you are using large amounts of other products that contain xanthine (such as chocolate or caffeinated drinks)
  • you are taking dipyridamole intravenously (IV), febuxostat, halothane, or St. John's wort

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using theophylline:

Some medical conditions may interact with theophylline. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a history of heart problems (eg, congestive heart failure, cor pulmonale), an irregular heartbeat, liver problems (eg, cirrhosis, hepatitis), viral infection, thyroid problems, increased acid levels in the body, brain or nerve problems, or seizures (eg, epilepsy)
  • if you are in shock or have a fever, an ulcer, a severe infection, cystic fibrosis, or fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • if you smoke, are stopping or starting smoking, or are exposed to the smoke from cigarettes or marijuana
  • if you are in the last 3 months of pregnancy

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with theophylline. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Aminoglutethimide, barbiturates (eg, phenobarbital), carbamazepine, hydantoins (eg, phenytoin), isoproterenol, moricizine, rifampin, St. John's wort, or sulfinpyrazone because they may decrease theophylline's effectiveness
  • Allopurinol, beta-blockers (eg, propranolol), cimetidine, disulfiram, enoxacin, estrogen, febuxostat, fluvoxamine, interferon alpha, macrolide antibiotics (eg, clarithromycin, erythromycin), methotrexate, mexiletine, oral contraceptives (birth control pills), pentoxifylline, propafenone, quinolone antibiotics (eg, ciprofloxacin), tacrine, thiabendazole, ticlopidine, troleandomycin, verapamil, viloxazine, or zileuton because they may increase the risk of theophylline's side effects
  • Ephedrine because the risk of side effects, such as nausea, nervousness, and trouble sleeping, may be increased
  • Halothane because the risk of side effects such as irregular heartbeat may be increased
  • Ketamine because the risk of seizures may be increased
  • Adenosine, benzodiazepines (eg, diazepam, flurazepam, lorazepam, midazolam), dipyridamole IV, lithium, or nondepolarizing muscle relaxants (eg, pancuronium) because their effectiveness may be decreased by theophylline

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if theophylline may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use theophylline:

Use theophylline as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Some foods may change the effectiveness or increase the side effects of theophylline. Talk to your doctor about how you should take theophylline with regard to food. Do not suddenly change your diet or eating habits without first checking with your doctor.
  • Take theophylline at evenly spaced times throughout the day. Taking theophylline at the same time each day will help you remember to take it. Contact your doctor with any questions or concerns about the best way to take theophylline.
  • If you miss a dose of theophylline, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use theophylline.

Important safety information:

  • Drinking alcohol may increase the risk of side effects of theophylline. Talk to your doctor before drinking alcohol while you are taking theophylline.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take theophylline before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose or use more often than prescribed without checking with your doctor. If your symptoms become worse, contact your doctor.
  • Carry an ID card at all times that says you take theophylline.
  • Avoid large amounts of food or drink that have caffeine (eg, coffee, tea, cocoa, cola, chocolate).
  • Notify your doctor if you develop a new illness, especially if it is accompanied by fever; if a chronic illness becomes worse; or if you start or stop smoking cigarettes or marijuana.
  • Tell your doctor if another doctor prescribes a new medicine or tells you to stop using a medicine that you have already been taking. Tell your doctor if you start or stop any medicine, either prescription or over the counter.
  • Theophylline will not stop an asthma attack once one has started. Be sure to always carry appropriate rescue medicine (eg, bronchodilator inhaler) with you in case of an asthma attack.
  • If you have more than one doctor, be sure to tell each of your doctors that you are taking theophylline.
  • Diabetes patients - Theophylline may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Theophylline may interfere with certain lab tests. Be sure your doctor and lab personnel know you are taking theophylline.
  • Lab tests, including blood theophylline levels, may be performed while you use theophylline. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use theophylline with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Caution is advised when using theophylline in CHILDREN, especially children younger than 1 year old; they may be more sensitive to its effects. Children may be more likely to experience mild, temporary behavior changes.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using theophylline while you are pregnant. Theophylline is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use theophylline, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of theophylline:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Irritability; mild, temporary caffeine-like effects (eg, headache, nausea, diarrhea, trouble sleeping); mild, temporary changes in behavior; restlessness; temporary increased urination.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); confusion; dizziness; fast breathing; fast or irregular heartbeat; heart rhythm problems; seizures; severe or persistent nausea, diarrhea, or headache; sleeplessness; tremors; vomiting.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include agitation; chest pain; confusion; decreased urination; fast or irregular heartbeat; headache; increased thirst; irritability; loss of appetite; muscle pain or tenderness; nausea; nervousness; persistent increased urination; restlessness; seizures; severe or persistent diarrhea; stomach pain; tremors or twitching; vomiting, especially of blood.

Proper storage of theophylline:

Store theophylline at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C), in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not refrigerate. Keep theophylline out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about theophylline, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Theophylline is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about theophylline. If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: November 5, 2014
Database Edition 14.4.1.002
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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