Theophylline or theophylline is  a medicine to ease  the symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, or cough due to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Theophylline can also reduce irritation in the airways . This medicine must be consumed with a doctor's prescription.

Theophylline is a bronchodilator drug. This drug works by relaxing the muscles in the respiratory tract so that air from and to the lungs can flow more smoothly. That way, the sufferer can breathe more easily.

Brand names of theophylline:  Bronsolvan, Bufabron, Euphyllin Retard Mite, Euphyllin Retard, Etatheolin, Kontrasma, Nitrasma, Retaphyl SR, Samcolat, Theobron, Velcasma XR

What is Theophylline

Group Prescription drugs
Category Bronchodilators
Benefits Overcome the symptoms of respiratory disorders due to asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Consumed by Adults and children
Theophylline for pregnant and lactating women Category C: Studies on experimental animals show side effects on the fetus, but there are no controlled studies on pregnant women.

Medicines can only be used if the magnitude of the expected benefit exceeds the magnitude of the risk to the fetus.

Theophylline can be absorbed into breast milk. If you are breastfeeding, do not use this medicine without first consulting your doctor.

Drug form Tablets, syrups, caplets, and capsules

Warnings Before Consuming Theophylline

Theophylline should not be consumed casually and should only be consumed based on the doctor's instructions. Before consuming theophylline, you need to pay attention to the following things:

  • Do not consume theophylline if you have an allergy to this drug. Tell the doctor if you have ever experienced an allergy after using a similar drug, such as aminophylline .
  • Tell your doctor if you have had or are suffering from stomach ulcers , seizures or epilepsy , porphyria, hypokalemia, thyroid disease, kidney disease, liver disease (especially hepatitis or cirrhosis), cholestasis , urinary disorders, prostate enlargement , or cystic fibrosis .
  • Tell your doctor if you have had or are currently suffering from heart failure, heart rhythm disorders , high blood pressure, or have recently had a heart attack .
  • Tell your doctor if you are or have been addicted to alcohol, have a smoking habit, or have recently quit smoking.
  • Consult with a doctor about the use of theophylline in the elderly and children to anticipate the risk of side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking other medications, including supplements and herbal products, to anticipate drug interactions.
  • Tell the doctor if you are undergoing electroconvulsive therapy .
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor that you are taking theophylline before undergoing vaccination with the influenza vaccine , laboratory tests, or surgery, including dental surgery.
  • Immediately inform the doctor if you experience a sudden high fever, a fever that does not go down, or shortness of breath, while using theophylline.
  • Immediately see a doctor if you experience an overdose, drug allergic reaction, or more serious side effects, after consuming theophylline.

Dosage and  Administration of Theophylline

Theophylline dose depends on the drug preparation, age, and health condition of the patient. The following are common doses of theophylline:

Purpose: Overcome wheezing or shortness of breath in recurrent asthma attacks or COPD

  • Adults: Initial dose of 5 mg/kg body weight is ideal. This dose is reserved for patients who have not consumed theophylline in the last 24 hours.

Purpose: Prevent or control the symptoms of respiratory disorders due to asthma and COPD

  • Adults: 200–500 mg, 2 times a day or 400–600 mg, 1 time a day.
  • Children aged 6–12 years with a body weight of 20–35 kg: 125–250 mg, 2 times a day.
  • Children aged >12 years: same as adult dose

The doctor can increase or decrease the theophylline dose based on the theophylline level in the blood after the therapy has started. Dosage adjustment can also be determined from observation of the patient's condition, such as heart rate or breathing rate, and drug side effects.

How to Consume Theophylline Correctly

Follow the doctor 's advice and read the information on the package before consuming theophylline. Do not start or stop treatment, as well as increase or decrease the dose of theophylline without the doctor's permission.

Theophylline can be consumed before or after meals. However, if you experience nausea, it is best to take this medicine with food.

If you are taking tablets, caplets, or slow-release capsules (theophylline labeled SR, XR, or retard), swallow this medicine whole with a glass of water. Do not crush, split, or chew the medicine.

For those of you who have difficulty swallowing capsules, you can open the capsule and mix the contents with 1 spoon of soft food, such as yogurt. Immediately consume the medicine after mixing with food.

For theophylline in the form of syrup, do not forget to shake the medicine before drinking. Use the special measuring spoon or glass included in the package so that the dosage is more accurate.

Consume theophylline at the same time every day for optimal results. If you forget to take this medicine, it is recommended to drink it as soon as you remember. However, if the break with the next consumption schedule is close, ignore the missed dose and do not double the dose at the next time.

Keep in mind, theophylline can only control the symptoms of asthma and COPD, but does not cure them. Therefore, continue the treatment according to the time determined by the doctor even if the condition has improved. Do not stop treatment suddenly without first consulting a doctor.

While using theophylline, the doctor may ask you to undergo a blood test. This is to check the body's response to the drug. Therefore, follow the control schedule that has been determined by the doctor.

Store theophylline at room temperature, in a dry place, away from direct sunlight, and out of the reach of children.

Theophylline Interactions with Other Drugs 

Drug interactions that can occur if theophylline is taken together with other drugs are:

  • Increased side effects of nausea, nervousness, and insomnia, if used with ephedrine
  • Decreased effectiveness of theophylline if used with rifampicin, carbamazepine , ritonavir, or phenobarbital
  • Increased risk of theophylline side effects if used with cimetidine , clarithromycin, erythromycin , ciprofloxacin, allopurinol , disulfiram, isoniazid, methotrexate , propranolol, verapamil , fluvoxamine, fluconazole , or birth control pills
  • Increased levels of theophylline and the risk of side effects if used together with the influenza vaccine
  • Increased risk of arrhythmia if used with halothane
  • Increased risk of seizures if used with ketamine
  • Decreased effectiveness of lithium
  • Reducing the drowsy effect of benzodiazepine drugs , such as diazepam or lorazepam
  • Increased risk of hypokalemia if used with beta agonist drugs , corticosteroids, or diuretics

Alcohol and caffeine can increase the risk of side effects of theophylline. Therefore, avoid or reduce the consumption of drinks containing alcohol or caffeine , such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks. Avoid consuming large amounts of chocolate, because chocolate contains caffeine.

Side Effects and Dangers of Theophylline

The following are side effects that may appear after consuming theophylline:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Headache
  • Difficulty sleeping ( insomnia )
  • Diarrhea
  • Get angry easily
  • Restless
  • Nervous
  • Tremors
  • Sweating

Check with your doctor if the above side effects do not subside. Go to the doctor immediately if an allergic reaction to the drug appears, which can be marked by the appearance of an itchy and swollen rash, swollen eyes and lips, or difficulty breathing.

In addition, you should also see a doctor immediately if you experience more serious side effects, such as:

  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • The heartbeat feels fast, too slow, or irregular
  • Muscle cramps
  • Bewildered
  • Turn
  • Hypokalemia , which is characterized by leg cramps, constipation, frequent thirst, tingling or numbness, and muscle weakness or paralysis
  • Hyperglycemia , which is characterized by dry mouth, increased urination, or fruity breath
  • Convulsions
  • Pass out
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