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Uniphyl

Generic Name: theophylline (thee OFF i lin)
Brand Name: Elixophyllin, Theo-24

What is Uniphyl (theophylline)?

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

Theophylline is used to treat symptoms such as wheezing or shortness of breath caused by asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and other breathing problems

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

What is the most important information I should know about Uniphyl (theophylline)?

Do not take theophylline in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Theophylline overdose can occur if you accidentally take too much at one time, or if your daily doses are too high. To be sure you are using the correct dose, your blood will need to be tested often.

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Do not start or stop smoking without first talking to your doctor. Smoking changes the way your body uses theophylline, and you may need to use a different dose.

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain drugs at the same time. Many drugs can interact with theophylline. Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use. Also tell your doctor if you start or stop using any of your other medications.

Stop using theophylline and call your doctor at once if you have severe or continued vomiting, rapid heartbeats, confusion, tremors, or seizure.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Uniphyl (theophylline)?

You should not use theophylline if you are allergic to it.

To make sure theophylline is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have any of these conditions:

  • a gastric or peptic ulcer;

  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;

  • heart disease, high blood pressure, a heart rhythm disorder;

  • a high fever (102 degrees or higher);

  • any chronic or recurrent illness;

  • fluid in your lungs;

  • a thyroid disorder;

  • liver disease (especially cirrhosis or hepatitis);

  • kidney disease;

  • serious infection called sepsis;

  • enlarged prostate or urination problems;

  • a history of alcoholism; or

  • if you smoke or have recently quit smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether theophylline will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

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.

Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old without medical advice.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults taking theophylline.

How should I take Uniphyl (theophylline)?

Follow the directions on your prescription label. Do not take theophylline in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.

Do not use theophylline to treat an asthma or bronchospasm attack. Use only a fast acting inhalation medication.

Your dose and the number of times you take theophylline daily will depend on the reason you are taking this medication.

Your dosage needs may change if you are ill, or if your doctor changes your brand, strength, or type of theophylline. You will need regular medical tests to be sure you are using the right dose. Do not change your medication dose or schedule without your doctor's advice.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water.

Follow your doctor's instructions about whether to take your medication with food or on an empty stomach. Take the medication the same way every time.

Do not crush, chew, break, or open an extended-release tablet or capsule. Swallow it whole. Breaking or opening the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.

Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

This medication can affect the results of certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using theophylline.

Do not start or stop smoking without first talking to your doctor. Smoking changes the way your body uses theophylline, and you may need to use a different dose.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Seizures caused by a theophylline overdose can cause death or permanent brain damage.

Theophylline overdose can occur if you accidentally take too much at one time. Overdose can also occur slowly over time if your daily doses are too high. To be sure you are using the correct dose, your blood will need to be tested often.

Overdose symptoms may include severe forms of some of the side effects listed in this medication guide.

What should I avoid while taking Uniphyl (theophylline)?

Avoid eating foods that are high in fat within 1 hour before or after taking theophylline.

This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Uniphyl (theophylline) side effects

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

Stop using theophylline and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • severe or continued vomiting;

  • rapid or uneven heartbeats;

  • seizure (convulsions);

  • confusion, tremors or shaking;

  • nausea and vomiting, severe headache, rapid heart rate;

  • low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling); or

  • high blood sugar (increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • stomach pain, diarrhea, upset stomach;

  • headache;

  • sweating;

  • sleep problems (insomnia); or

  • feeling restless, nervous, or irritable;

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.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Uniphyl (theophylline)?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain drugs at the same time. Some medicines can affect how theophylline works, which could make it less effective or cause side effects. Theophylline could also affect how other medicines work, making them less effective or causing side effects.

Many drugs can interact with theophylline and not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all medications you use, start using, or stop using during your treatment with theophylline, especially:

  • cimetidine (Tagamet);

  • fluvoxamine (Luvox);

  • interferon alfa (Intron A, Rebetron, Alferon, Infergen, Pegasys, PegIntron, Sylatron);

  • lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid);

  • ticlopidine (Ticlid);

  • an antibiotic, or medication to treat tuberculosis;

  • heart or blood pressure medication, such as propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran);

  • heart rhythm medication such as mexiletine (Mexitil) or propafenone (Rythmol);

  • medication to treat gout or kidney stones;

  • a sedative such as Valium; or

  • seizure medication.

This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with theophylline. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to any healthcare provider who treats you.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about theophylline.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • 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 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 7.01. Revision Date: 2012-11-13, 3:58:32 PM.

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