Theophylline - oral

Patient Medicine Information
Why do I need this medicine?
Theophylline is used to treat or prevent attacks of bronchospasm (breathing distress caused by tightening and narrowing of the airways).

It is a bronchodilator which helps to treat asthma or other chest illnesses by relaxing the airways of the lungs, and relieving chest tightness, wheezing and cough so that you can breathe more easily.
How do I take this medicine?
Take Theophylline exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about whether you should take this medicine with or without food. Different brands of Theophylline may be taken differently.

This medicine is available as a conventional tablet, modified release tablets or capsule, and an oral solution or syrup.

If you are taking the modified release type of tablet or capsule (usually labeled as “PR”, “ER” or “SR”), swallow it whole with a glass of water. Do not divide, crush or chew the tablet or capsule.

If you have difficulty swallowing capsule(s), you may open the capsule and sprinkle the contents onto a spoonful of soft foods such as yoghurt. Do not chew or suck the sprinkled pellets from the capsule.

If you are taking the oral syrup or solution, shake the bottle well before you take it to ensure that the liquid is evenly mixed. Use the measuring spoon or cup provided to measure your dose.

The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the course of treatment depending on your condition and response to the medication.

Theophylline must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it unless instructed by the doctor.
What should I do if I have forgotten to take this medicine?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.

DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.

If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
When should I not use this medicine?
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • recent heart attack
  • sudden, rapid heartbeat
  • porphyria (an inherited disorder that causes skin or nervous system abnormalities)
as this medicine may not be suitable for you.

Do not give Theophylline to children who are taking ephedrine (other medicine used to treat bronchospasm).
What should I take note of while taking this medicine?
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease e.g. irregular heartbeat, heart failure
  • lung problems
  • cystic fibrosis (inherited disease that causes excessively thick and sticky mucus build up in the lungs or intestines)
  • thyroid problems e.g. over- or underactive thyroid gland
  • stomach ulcers
  • with or history of epilepsy (fits or seizures)
  • viral infection
  • bladder obstruction e.g. prostate enlargement
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease
  • are a frequent smoker
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving Theophylline to a child or the elderly. Children and elderly people may be more sensitive to the side effects.

Notify your doctor if you consume large amounts of alcohol or if you are a frequent drinker.

Inform your doctor if you are undergoing electroshock therapy (also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT).

Do not switch between different brands or dosage forms unless advised by your doctor.

Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. Do not receive any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.

If you are going to have certain laboratory tests (e.g. blood cholesterol or sugar), inform your doctor that you are taking this medicine.

For as long as you are taking Theophylline, you may need to have regular blood tests to check your body’s response to the medicine. Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have blood tests.
What side effects could I experience?
Theophylline may cause dizziness. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert.

Other side effects include any of the following: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and involuntary shaking of the hands or legs.

Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • fits or seizures
  • difficulty passing urine
  • rashes, breathlessness, swelling of the face, eyes or mouth
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Can I take this with other medicines?
Do not give Theophylline to children who are taking ephedrine (other medicine used to treat bronchospasm).

Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
  • medicines for high blood pressure or heart disease e.g. propranolol, verapamil
  • medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital
  • medicines to treat depression e.g. fluvoxamine, viloxazine
  • medicines to treat TB (infection known as tuberculosis) e.g. rifampicin, isoniazid
  • certain antibiotics e.g. erythromycin, clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin, enoxacin
  • medicines for gout (high uric acid level in the blood) e.g. sulfinpyrazone, allopurinol
  • ritonavir (medicine for HIV infection)
  • fluconazole (medicine to treat fungal infections)
  • lithium (medicine for mood disorders)
  • cimetidine (medicine that reduces stomach acid production)
  • St. John’s wort (herbal medicine)
  • birth control pills
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Theophylline.

Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Avoid alcohol.
How should I store this medicine?
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.

Protect the oral solution or syrup from excessive heat exposure.

Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
This information is independently developed by MIMS based on theophylline - oral and is provided for your reference only. It is not a replacement for and should only be used in conjunction with full consultation with a licensed healthcare professional, the information provided by your pharmacist and/or the manufacturer of the medication. It may not contain all the available information you require and cannot substitute professional medical care, nor does it take into account all individual circumstances. Although great effort has been made to ensure content accuracy, we shall not be held responsible or liable for any claims or damages arising from the use or misuse of the information contained herein, its contents or omissions, or otherwise. Copyright © 2024 MIMS. All rights reserved. Powered by
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