Prescription vs.OTC: Prescription by Doctor required

Theophylline is prescribed for the treatment of airway blockage that may occur as a result of various lung conditions like bronchitis, asthma, emphysema or COPD. The drug may also be helpful in the treatment of other health condition as advised by your doctor.

The drug is known to be a xanthine derivative. Therefore, it functions by effectively relaxing the muscles of the air passages in the lungs. This in turn widens the passages making it easier for you to breathe. Moreover, the drug also makes the diaphragm stronger and the airways resistant to irritants.

Before you start taking the drug, here are a few things that you should inform your doctor about-

  • Ensure that your doctor knows if you are pregnant. It is best to inform him beforehand if you are trying to conceive as well.
  • Provide him with a list of all the medicines that you are taking. Include all prescribed, non-prescribed as well as herbal drugs that you are presently taking.
  • Provide him with a list of allergies to any food items or drugs that you are aware of.
  • Tell him if you currently have an ulcer, infection or fever.
  • Make sure to tell him if you smoke or take marijuana.

Certain foods affect the functioning of Theophylline. Thus before you start the drug discuss with your doctor about any foods that you should avoid. Do not make any dietary changes before consulting your doctor. In case you forget to take a dose of the medicine, just skip it and return to your normal schedule. It is best that you avoid taking 2 doses of the medicine at one go.

Acid-base imbalance is a commonly experienced side effect of Theophylline. If you do experience any other side effects get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible. Take exactly as directed; do not exceed recommended dosage.

Avoid smoking (smoking may interfere with drug absorption as well as exacerbate condition for which medication is prescribed). If you are smoking when dosage is prescribed; inform prescriber if you stop smoking (dosage may need to be adjusted to prevent toxicity).

Preferable to take on empty stomach (1 hour before or 2 hours after meals), with a full glass of water. Do not chew of crush sustained release forms; capsules may be opened and contents sprinkled on soft food (do not chew beads). Avoid dietary stimulants (eg, caffeine, tea, colas, or chocolate - may increase adverse side effects).

Maintain adequate hydration (2-3 L/day of fluids unless instructed to restrict fluid intake). You may experience nausea, vomiting, or lose of appetite (frequent small meals, frequent mouth care, chewing gum, or sucking lozenges may help).

Report acute insomnia or restlessness, chest pain or rapid heartbeat, emotional lability or agitation, muscle tremors or cramping, acute headache, abdominal pain and cramping, blackened stool, or worsening of respiratory condition.

Information given here is based on the salt content of the medicine. Uses and effects of the medicine may vary from person to person. It is advisable to consult a Pulmonologist before using this medicine.

The medicine is useful against the following conditions:

  • Asthma

  • Other Lung Diseases Causing Bronchospasms

  • Neonatal Apnea

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Increased/Irregular Heart Rate

  • Convulsions

  • Allergic Skin Reaction

  • Stomach Discomfort And Pain

  • Diarrhoea

  • Headache

  • Sleeplessness

  • Swelling Of Ankles Or Feet

  • Yellow Colored Eyes Or Skin

  • Increased Urination Frequency

  • Twitching And Unusual Movement Of Muscles

  • Elevated Liver Enzymes

  • How long is the duration of effect?

    The time duration for which this medicine remains effective in the body is subject to variations based on the form of medicine consumed.
  • What is the onset of action?

    The amount of time taken for this medicine to show its effect is subject to vary based on the form of medicine consumed.
  • Are there any pregnancy warnings?

    This medicine is not recommended for use by women who are pregnant unless absolutely necessary and the benefits outweigh the risks associated. Consult your doctor before using this medicine.
  • Is it habit forming?

    No habit forming tendencies were reported.
  • Are there any breast-feeding warnings?

    This medicine is not recommended for use by women who are breastfeeding unless necessary. Consult your doctor and discuss the risks associated with use before taking this medicine.
  • Missed Dose instructions

    Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next scheduled dose then the missed dose can be skipped.
  • Overdose instructions

    Contact your doctor immediately if an overdose with theophylline is suspected. The overdose may occur due to excessive uptake at one time or exposure to high doses over a long period of time. Symptoms of overdose may include fever, nausea and occasional vomiting, lack of sleep, agitation etc. An overdose of this medicine can cause severe seizures and even death.
  • India

  • United States

  • Japan

Below is the list of medicines, which contains Theophylline as ingredient

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This medicine causes bronchodilation by competitively inhibiting type III and type IV phosphodiesterase (PDE). PDE is an enzyme that leads to the breakdown of cyclic AMP in the smooth muscle cells. It also counters bronchoconstriction by binding to adenosine A2B receptors and antagonizing adenosine.

Whenever you take more than one medicine, or mix it with certain foods or beverages, you"re at risk of a drug interaction.

  • Interaction with Alcohol


    Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
  • Interaction with Lab Test

    Serum Uric acid test

    Report the use of this medicine before undergoing a test to determine the level of uric acid in the serum. This medicine may interfere with the results and may give a false positive result for the procedure.
  • Interaction with Medicine

    • Decreased effect/increased toxicity: Changes in diet may affect the elimination of theophylline; charcoal-broiled foods may increase elimination, reducing half-life by 50%.
    • Decreased theophylline level: Aminoglutethimide, barbiturates, carbamazepine, charcoal, high protein/low carbohydrate diet, hydantoins, isoniazid, I.V. isoproterenol, ketoconazole, loop diuretics, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin, smoking (cigarettes, marijuana), sulfinpyrazone, sympathomimetics.
    • ncreased theophylline level: Allopurinol (>600 mg/day), beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, carbamazepine, CHF, cimetidine, ciprofloxacin, cor pulmonale, corticosteroids, disulfiram, ephedrine, erythromycin, fever/viral illness, hepatic cirrhosis, influenza virus vaccine, interferon, isoniazid, loop diuretics, macrolides, mexiletine, oral contraceptives, propranolol, quinolones, thiabendazole, thyroid hormones, troleandomycin.
  • Interaction with Disease

    Peptic Ulcer

    This medicine should be administered with caution in patients with active peptic ulcer disease. As the risk of worsening of symptoms is very high, your doctor will determine the best course of treatment after assessing the condition.

    Kidney Disease

    This medicine should be used with caution in patients suffering from an impairment of kidney functions. Appropriate dose adjustments and intensive monitoring may be required if the impairment is moderate to severe.

    Seizure Disorders

    This medicine should be used with caution in patients suffering from seizure disorders. Appropriate medicine to control seizure should be given before starting the treatment with this medicine.

    Heart Rhythm Disorders

    This medicine should be used with caution in a patient suffering from a heart rhythm disorder. Suitable clinical investigations should be performed to determine the safe and effective use of this medicine.
  • Interaction with Food

    Tobacco and marijuana

    Avoid consumption of tobacco and marijuana while taking this medicine. The risk of adverse effects is high even with secondhand smoking.


    Avoid drinking or eating large quantities of caffeine-containing beverages or food; avoid extremes of dietary protein and carbohydrate intake; limit charcoal-broiled foods; should be administered with water 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.

Ques: What is Theophylline?

Ans: Theophylline is prescribed for the treatment of airway blockage that may occur as a result of various lung conditions like bronchitis, asthma or emphysema.

Ques: What are the uses of Theophylline?

Ans: Theophylline used for the treatment of Asthma, Other Lung Diseases Causing Bronchospasms and Neonatal Apnea.

Ques: How long do I need to use Theophylline before I see improvement in my condition?

Ans: This medication is to be taken till the time you see an improvement in your health conditions.

Ques: At what frequency do I need to use Theophylline?

Ans: This medication should be taken in the dosage as prescribed by the doctor.

Ques: Should I use Theophylline empty stomach, before food or after food?

Ans: This medication should be taken after food in a prescribed dosage.

Ques: What are the instructions for the storage and disposal of Theophylline?

Ans: This medication should be kept in a cool dry place and in its original packaging. Make sure this medication remains unreachable to children and pets.

Ques: How is this Theophylline administered?

Ans: This medication is administered orally.
Disclaimer: The information produced here is best of our knowledge and experience and we have tried our best to make it as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we would like to request that it should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Lybrate is a medium to provide our audience with the common information on medicines and does not guarantee its accuracy or exhaustiveness. Even if there is no mention of a warning for any drug or combination, it never means that we are claiming that the drug or combination is safe for consumption without any proper consultation with an expert.

Lybrate does not take responsibility for any aspect of medicines or treatments. If you have any doubts about your medication, we strongly recommend you to see a doctor immediately.

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Content Details
Written By
PhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child Care
Reviewed By
MBBS, Master in Healthcare Administration, Diploma in Occupational Health
General Physician
Table of Content
About Theophylline
What are the uses of Theophylline
What are the contraindications of Theophylline ?
What are the side effects of Theophylline ?
Key highlights of Theophylline
What are the dosage instructions?
Where is the Theophylline approved?
Medicines containing Theophylline
How does this medication work?
What are the interactions of Theophylline ?
FAQs about Theophylline