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What Is Theophylline/Theofylline?

What Kind of Medications Are There For COPD?

Theophylline medications are the third in the group of bronchodilators that affect the muscles in the breathing tubes. These drugs, however, are also believed to help decrease swelling in your lungs. When the lungs are irritated, the muscle bands around the breathing passages can tighten making the breathing tube smaller. Theophylline stimulates the muscles so that they relaxe, making the breathing tubes widen, making it easier to breathe.

What kinds of theophylline medication are there?
Like the other bronchodilators, there are short- and long-acting theophylline drugs. Short-acting theophylline drugs last 6-12 hours while long-acting theophylline drugs last 24 hours. Examples of short-acting theophylline drugs are Theo Dur, Theofylline, Theolair and Theochron, and long-acting are Theo-24, Theolair retard and Uniphyl.

A list of short-acting theophyllines

Generic name Brand name How it is given Dosage
Theophylline Choledyl, Elixophyllin, Neulin depot, Phyllocontin,Quibron-T Respbid, Slo-Bid, Slo-Phyllin, Theochron, Theo Dur, Theofyllin, Theolair, Uniphyllin Tablets
Liquid
Up to 800 mg daily, but the amount must be carefully regulated
#: dosages may vary by generic product, i.e. higher dosages for one generic drug does not mean they are less strong than another generic product with a lower dosage.
mg stands for milligram.

A list of long-acting theophyllines

Generic name Brand name How it is given Dosage
Theophylline Theo-24, Unidur, Theochron SR Tablets
Liquid
Up to 800 mg daily, but the amount must be carefully regulated
#: dosages may vary by generic product, i.e. higher dosages for one generic drug does not mean they are less strong than another generic product with a lower dosage.
mg stands for milligram.

What problems (side-effects) should I watch for with theophylline?
Theophylline dosages require careful management, since serious side-effects can occur from too much theophylline. A blood test is available to determine safe levels of theophylline in the blood, however, various situations can cause levels to fluctuate. Other medications, smoking (or stopping smoking), alcohol, viral infections and heart failure can all cause levels to suddenly increase or decrease.

The most common side-affects are trembling, nausea, headache, dizziness, heartburn, stomach pain, loss of appetite, restlessness, nervousness and sleeplessness. More serious side-effects, such as vomiting, heart irregularities (arrhythmias) and seizures, can occur. If you experience any of these serious side-effects, you should seek medical care immediately.

How often and how much should I take?
How often you take theophylline will depend on long the drug lasts. A common dosage of theophylline is 200-400 mg twice daily, however, each person will vary. Theophylline drugs must be used only as prescribed because of the potential for serious side-effects. Blood levels of theophylline should be checked shortly after starting treatment, then regularly after that time.

Theophylline drugs are best taken on an empty stomach, either 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. If you experience a stomach upset when taking theophylline, taking the tablets with food may reduce the stomach upset. Theophylline drugs work best if they are taken at about the same time each day.

Long-acting capsules and tablets must be swallowed whole. If capsules are too large to swallow, the capsule can be opened and the contents mixed with jam. This mixture should be swallowed without chewing.

What should I do if I forget to take my theophylline medication?
If you are not certain whether you have taken your dosage of theophylline, do not take any until the next dosage is due. If you have taken an extra dosage and notice side-effects, call your healthcare provider for advice. If you have taken an extra dosage and do not have side-effects, skip your next dose.