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    Information about Theophylline

    Theophylline uses

    Theophylline is used in the treatment and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

    How theophylline works

    Theophylline is a bronchodilator. It works by relaxing the muscles of the airways and widens airways. This makes breathing easier.

    Common side effects of theophylline

    Nausea, Vomiting, Headache, Restlessness, Upset stomach
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Love Sharma
    PhD (Pharmacology), PGDPRA
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Shilpa Garcha
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    18 Feb 2020 | 05:21 PM (IST)
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    Read Our Editorial Policy

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    Expert advice for Theophylline

    • You have been prescribed Theophylline for prevention and treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
    • It should be taken at the same time each day, preferably in the evening after food.
    • It does not work right away and should not be used to relieve sudden breathing problems. Always keep a fast-acting (rescue) inhaler with you.
    • Your doctor may take regular blood test to monitor potassium level and the level of this medicine in your body.
    • Notify your doctor if you have ever been diagnosed with kidney, liver or heart disease, or if you have a smoking history. Your dose may need to be adjusted.
    • Do not discontinue use without consulting your doctor, even if you feel better.

    Frequently asked questions for Theophylline


    Q. How quickly does Theophylline work?

    Theophylline starts acting quickly and you may notice improvement in symptoms within about half an hour of taking it. However, the medicine may take a little longer about 4-8 hours to show full effect. Consult your doctor if there is no considerable improvement in your symptoms.

    Q. What foods to avoid while taking Theophylline?

    While on Theophylline you should avoid foods rich in caffeine like tea, cocoa, coffee, and chocolate. These foods can increase side effects associated with Theophylline. In addition to that, you should avoid alcohol and tobacco while on Theophylline. Discuss with your doctor if you are not sure or have any concerns regarding food restriction.

    Q. How should Theophylline be taken?

    Take the medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Usually, it is prescribed to be taken twice a day. Take the tablets with a full glass of water at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Do not crush or chew the tablets. The capsules can be taken whole or opened and the contents mixed with soft food and swallowed without chewing.

    Q. Is Theophylline a steroid?

    No, Theophylline is not a steroid. It is a methylxanthine drug which relaxes smooth muscles around the airways of the lungs. It belongs to bronchodilator group of medicines. It relaxes the air passages in the lungs making it easier to breathe.

    Q. Does Theophylline cause tachycardia?

    Yes, Theophylline may cause increased or rapid heart rate (tachycardia). It may also cause irregular heart beat, palpitations, and low blood pressure. Immediately contact the doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. It is important to inform your doctor if you are a heart patient, as regular check on heart rate and blood pressure may be advised.

    Q. Is Theophylline a stimulant?

    Yes, Theophylline is a central nervous system stimulant. During treatment with Theophylline, the patient may experience headache, irritability, and sleeplessness, or inability to fall asleep (insomnia), lightheadedness, and dizziness. Discuss with your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.

    Content on this page was last updated on 18 February, 2020, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)