Ensuring Safe Treatment With Theophylline

Some Theophylline Warnings and Precautions

Following are some warnings and precautions to be aware of with theophylline:
 
  • In general, theophylline should not be used in people with ulcers, seizures or epilepsy, or an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), as theophylline can worsen these conditions. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking theophylline if you have any of these conditions.
     
  • Certain conditions may affect how your body handles theophylline. These conditions can include:

 

People with any of the above conditions, as well as very young children and the elderly, usually need a lower theophylline dosage.
  • High levels of theophylline in the blood can be very dangerous. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have signs of high theophylline levels, including:

 

    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain (or stomach pain)
    • Diarrhea
    • A rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
    • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
    • Nervousness
    • Shakiness (tremors)
    • Disorientation
    • Seizures.

 

  • Because theophylline can be a very difficult medication to dose (and because high levels of theophylline are dangerous), you will need regular blood tests to measure the level of theophylline in your blood.
     
  • Theophylline can interact with certain other medications, as well as with alcohol and tobacco (see Theophylline Drug Interactions).
     
  • High fevers can increase the level of theophylline in your blood. Contact your healthcare provider if you have a very high fever during treatment with theophylline.
     
  • Theophylline is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, though the full risks are not known. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using theophylline during pregnancy (see Theophylline and Pregnancy).
     
  • Theophylline passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about using theophylline (see Theophylline and Breastfeeding for more information).
     
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