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Brand Name(s) : Do-Do, Franol-Plus, Nuelin SA, SLO-Phyllin, Uniphyllin Continus
Side Effects


Theophylline should be used with caution in: the elderly, patients who have an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias), high blood pressure, heart failure or other heart problems; patients with certain breathing disorder (cystic fibrosis); patients who have an over-active thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism); patients who have a stomach ulcer; patients with liver problems; patients with prostate problems; patients with kidney disease; patients who suffer from seizures, fits or convulsions (e.g. epilepsy); patients who are unwell with a high temperature or fever; patients with a viral infection; patients who are addicted to alcohol; patients who smoke.

It should not be used in: patients who are allergic (hypersensitive) to theophylline, other xanthines or any of the other ingredients of the tablets; patients who have porphyria (a rare disease of the blood); children under 6 or 7 years old (depending on the brand); children who are taking ephedrine (a drug used to treat allergies and asthma).

Also see list of precautions and interactions.


Store below 25 or 30°C (depending on brand).


What is it used for?

  • Theophylline is used to treat patients with asthma and long-term breathing difficulties. It is also sometimes used to treat heart failure.
  • It is a member of a family of drugs called xanthines and specifically it is a bronchodilator.
  • It is used to help stop wheezing and prevent breathlessness.
  • In general this drug is used to prevent and relieve the symptoms of bronchospasm (spasm of the muscles that surround these airways) associated with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a condition where the flow of air through the airways and out of the lungs is obstructed or blocked).
  • Benefits of being on this drug can include relief of the feeling of tightness in the chest and can stop wheezing and breathlessness.

Listed below are the typical uses of theophylline.

On occasion your doctor may prescribe this medicine to treat a condition not on the above list.


How often do I take it?

  • Take this medication by mouth usually twice a day, with a glass of water, preferably with or just after food. Swallow the tablets whole, do not crush or chew them. Crushing or chewing the tablets can lead to a rapid release of the drug which can cause toxic effects.
  • It is important not to switch brands of theophylline without the advice of your doctor as your dose may need to be adjusted.
  • Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it.
  • Remember to use it at the same time each day - unless specifically told not to by your doctor.
  • It may take up to a few hours before the full benefit of this drug takes effect.
  • Certain medical conditions may require different dosage instructions as directed by your doctor.

What dose?

  • Dosage is based on your age, gender, medical condition, response to therapy, and use of certain interacting medicines.

Do I need to avoid anything?

  • Theophylline may make some people feel dizzy. If you are affected, do not drive or operate machinery. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

When can I stop?

  • Always complete the full course as prescribed by your doctor.


  • Feeling sick (nausea)
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain/cramping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Difficulty in sleeping, feeling restless, irritable and shaky
  • A fast, slow or irregular heart beat
  • Painful joints
  • Rash or itchy skin
  • Difficulty in passing urine or passing high amounts of urine
If any of these persist or you consider them severe then inform your doctor or pharmacist.

Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms: confusion; dizziness; mental/mood changes; muscle twitching, pain or tenderness; weakness; rapid breathing; seizures, fits or convulsions.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

A serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include: rash, itching, swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine (which includes vaccines, herbals and over the counter medicines) that you are taking. It is run by the medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory agency (MHRA). Please report any suspected side effect on the Yellow Card Scheme website.


Before taking Theophylline, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other bronchodilators or xanthines; or if you have any other allergies.

This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist in case of: porphyria (a rare disease of the blood).

Before using this medication tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially any of the following: the breathing disorder cystic fibrosis; prostate problems; heart problems (e.g., congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat); high blood pressure; kidney disease; liver disease (e.g., cirrhosis); seizures; stomach or intestinal ulcer; thyroid disease.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.

Does alcohol intake affect this drug?

  • Yes alcohol can affect the way this medicine works.

The elderly: theophylline should be used with caution in the elderly as they may be more sensitive to the side effects.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding - please ensure you read the detailed information below


The safety of Theophylline has not been established during pregnancy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts or questions about this.

It is sensible to limit use of medication during pregnancy whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.

If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.


Theophylline passes into breast milk. If you are breastfeeding, speak to your doctor before taking this medicine.

It is sensible to limit use of medication during breastfeeding whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.

If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.


Before using this medicine, tell your prescriber of all the medicines you are taking including prescription medicines and medicines you have bought over the counter without a prescription. Tell your prescriber if you are taking vitamins or complementary remedies such as herbal products, as these can also interact with medicines.

If you are taking more than one medicine, these may interact with each other. Your prescriber may decide to use medicines which interact with each other if the benefit outweighs the risks. In these cases, the dose of your medicines may need to be adjusted or you may be monitored more closely.

The following medicines may interact with theophylline:

  • Ephedrine (in children)
  • Certain other medicines to treat asthma or breathing conditions that contain theophylline, aminophylline, salbutamol, terbutaline or salmeterol
  • Steroids
  • Diuretics (water pills) to increase urine production
  • Oral contraceptives
  • A herbal remedy called St John’s Wort (also known as Hypericum perforatum)
  • Aminoglutethimide, methotrexate or lomustine to treat cancer
  • Carbamazepine or phenytoin to treat seizures, fits or convulsions
  • Medicines known as barbiturates to help you sleep
  • Adenosine, moracizine, diltiazem, isoprenaline, mexiletine, propafenone, propranolol, verapamil or beta blockers to treat high blood pressure and other heart problems
  • Oxpentifylline to treat diseased blood vessels
  • Medicines known as benzodiazepines, which are used as a sedative or to treat anxiety
  • Sulphinpyrazone or allopurinol to treat gout
  • Carbimazole to treat problems with your thyroid gland
  • Cimetidine or nizatidine to treat stomach ulcers, indigestion or heartburn
  • Certain antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, norfloxacin, ofloxacin
  • Febuxostat
  • Fluconazole to treat fungal infections
  • Rifampicin or isoniazid to treat tuberculosis
  • Ritonavir to treat HIV
  • Medicines known as interferons, which you may be taking to treat conditions such as herpes, cancer, leukaemia or hepatitis
  • Thiabendazole to treat worms such as threadworms
  • Viloxazine, fluvoxamine or lithium to treat depression
  • Doxapram to stimulate breathing
  • Disulfiram to treat alcoholism

This information does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, tell your prescriber of all the products you are using before taking this medicine.

If you have a question or want to discuss anything about your medicine, speak to your local pharmacist.


Taking too much Theophylline may cause the following: nausea; vomiting (which is often severe); finding it difficult to swallow (epigastric pain); vomiting blood (haematemesis); restlessness; tightening of muscles (hypertonia); exaggerated limb reflexes and convulsions; increased heart rate. These symptoms may appear 12 hours after the overdose was taken.

People who have taken too much Theophylline should tell a doctor or go to a hospital casualty department straight away.

If you think you, or someone you care for, might have accidentally taken more than the recommended dose of Theophylline or intentional overdose is suspected, contact your local hospital, GP or if in England call 111. In Scotland call NHS 24. In Wales, call NHS Direct Wales. In the case of medical emergencies, always dial 999.


If you remember within four hours of the time your tablet was due, take your tablet straight away. If you are more than four hours late, please call your doctor or pharmacist for advice. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten tablet.

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Source: Selected from data included with permission and copyrighted by Boots UK Limited. This copyrighted material is sourced from a licensed data provider and is not for distribution, except as may be authorised by the applicable terms of use.
CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgement of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse events, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular medicine is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any medicine, changing any diet, or discontinuing any course of treatment.

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