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Diseases & Conditions

Theophylline Agents for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What are theophylline agents (or "maintenance" or "long-term control") bronchodilators?

Theophylline agents include theophylline products and aminophylline products. Theophylline products are Elixophyllin®, Theobid®, Theo-24®, T-phyl®, and Uniphyl®. Aminophylline products are Phyllocontin® and Truphylline®.

What do maintenance bronchodilators do, and how are they supplied?

These products do the following:

  • Prevent and relieve airway spasms
  • Open airways
  • Prevent night-time cough and shortness of breath

Maintenance bronchodilators are available in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms.

What are the potential side effects of maintenance bronchodilators?

Potential side effects include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Palpitations, tremors, muscle twitching
  • Nervousness, restlessness, difficulty sleeping

Note: The side effects listed are the most common. Always contact your health care provider if you have questions about your personal situation. You should notify your doctor if you smoke, or if you take any of the following medications:

  • Tagamet®
  • Dilantin®
  • Tegretol®
  • Cipro®
  • Erythromycin

How and when are maintenance bronchodilators taken? Are there special instructions?

  • Take with food.
  • Swallow tablets whole; do not chew or crush tablets.
  • If one daily dose is prescribed, do not take before bedtime.
  • Do not use for "quick relief" or as "rescue" medication for sudden symptoms.
  • Continue to take as prescribed, even if your symptoms are under control and you feel better.
  • Blood tests may be performed periodically.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 12/31/2011…#14317