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What should I know about theophylline before taking it?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

If you take theophylline, you should avoid alcohol.

If you have a seizure disorder that is not adequately controlled by anticonvulsant therapy, you should not take theophylline. 

If you have angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cor pulmonale, diabetes, glaucoma, heart failure, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, or impaired liver function, theophylline may not be a good option for you.

If you have had a peptic ulcer, you should not take theophylline.

Theophylline may not be a good option for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or who may be pregnant. It is not known if it is safe for pregnant women.

If you smoke tobacco or marijuana, theophylline may not be a good option for you.

If you are over age 60, theophylline may not be a good option for you.

Some theophylline preparations contain sulfites, which can trigger severe reactions in people with sulfite allergies.

Theophylline is passed into breast milk and may not be a good option for breastfeeding women.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.