Theophylline helps improve breathing in those suffering from asthma, chronic bronchitisemphysema and other lung diseases.

Pronunciation: thee-OF-i-lin

What are theophylline’s uses?

Theophylline’s uses include preventing and treating wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness typically experienced by people dealing with asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other lung diseases.

Theophylline’s mechanism of action works by relaxing muscles in the airways and thus treating bronchospasm (constriction in the air passages).

What dosage should you take?

A typical oral adult dose for theophylline is 375mg to 1000mg daily. However, dosage depends on the patient’s profile and medical need and in children, it will depend on their age and weight.

Check the correct dosages with your Clicks pharmacist.

What special precautions should you take?

  • Theophylline passes into breast milk and it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you’re breast-feeding.
  • In pregnancy, 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.
  • A reduced dose may be necessary in the elderly.
  • Avoid alcohol when taking theophylline as it may increase gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • If you smoke or have just given up smoking discuss using theophylline with your doctor or Clicks pharmacist.

Theophylline should be used with caution if you suffer from the following conditions, so discuss its use with your doctor or Clicks pharmacist first:

  • Liver problems
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
  • Ulcers
  • Porphyria (a group of rare genetic disorders that affect mainly the skin or nervous system)
  • Cystic fibrosis

What drug interactions could you experience?

As a rule, always inform your doctor or Clicks pharmacist what prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or planning to take to ensure you don’t suffer the effects of adverse drug interactions.

What are theophylline’s side effects?

Side effects could include:

Drinking or eating foodstuffs high in caffeine may increase the side effects caused by theophylline.

This is not a complete list of side effects. It’s essential that you call your doctor should you notice any severe or odd side effects.

What are the overdose symptoms?

Call a doctor or the ambulance immediately if you notice the following symptoms or any other severe adverse effects:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Skin rash
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in August 2015