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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0


What are other names for this medication?

Some brand names for theophyllin are Theo-Dur, Slo-Bid, Slo- Phyllin, and Theo/Air.

What does this drug do?

It relaxes the muscles in the airways, permitting more air to enter and leave the lungs.

How is it taken?

Theophylline is often taken by mouth in tablets, capsules, or liquids. Tablets should be swallowed whole. Do not chew or crush tablets. Slo-Bid capsules can be sprinkled on a small amount of food immediately before being swallowed.

What is the usual dose?

The dose of theophylline is different for each person. It is based on the medication used, frequency of administration, the child's response, and blood levels.

What side effects can this drug cause?

The most common side effects of theophylline are nausea, vomiting, stomachache, and diarrhea. These problems also can be symptoms of a variety of childhood illnesses, so call your doctor as soon as possible if they occur. Other less common side effects are headache, irritability, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, muscle twitching, and a fast, pounding heartbeat. If your child develops any side effects, STOP THE MEDICATION and call your doctor.

What special instructions should be followed?

  • An overdose of theophylline is dangerous. It is important to take this medication at the times prescribed. If you are unsure if a dose was taken, do not take any extra doses.
  • Theophylline preparations are different from one brand to another. Do not accept a substitution for the brand your doctor prescribed without first checking with your doctor.
  • Be sure to read any special instructions that your pharmacist provides with your medication.
  • Your child's usual dose of theophylline may cause dangerous side effects if your child has a viral infection with a high fever (over 102 degrees F, or 38.9 degrees C). It may also cause side effects if your child is taking other medications such as Cipro, Tagamet, erythromycin, or clarithromycin. (Common erythromycin preparations are Pediazole and E.E.S. Biaxin is a common clarithromycin preparation.) Call your doctor if your child has any of these risks.

Remember, stop taking theophylline if your child develops any side effects and CALL YOUR DOCTOR.

The theophylline medication prescribed is _________________. Your prescribed dose is ______ mg taken every ______ hours.

Written by the Asthma Task Force at The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems