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Theophylline/Food Interaction

This information is generalized and not intended as specific medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional before taking or discontinuing any drug, changing your diet or commencing any course of treatment.

Medical warning:

Very important. A change in your diet, medicine, or dosage may be necessary. Promptly consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How the interaction occurs:

The cause of the interaction is not known.

What might happen:

When theophylline is taken with food, it may either increase or decrease your blood level of this medicine. A decrease in the blood level of this medicine may decrease its beneficial effects. An increase in the blood levels of this medicine may cause serious side effects.The effect of food on your blood level of this medicine may vary depending on the carbohydrate (sugars and starches) and protein content of the food.

What you should do about this interaction:

Always take sustained-release theophylline with meals or always take it on an empty stomach (one hour before or two hours after food).Some sustained-release theophylline products have specific manufacturer's instructions regarding when to take this medicine relative relative to food. Follow the specific instructions. Contact your healthcare professional (e.g., doctor or pharmacist) for more information about your particular product.Tell your doctor immediately if you develop chest pain, rapid or irregular heartbeat, confusion, stomach pain, or breathing difficulties while taking this medication.Your healthcare professionals may be aware of this interaction and may be monitoring you for it. Do not start, stop, or change your medicine or diet before checking with them first.


1.Kappas A, Anderson KE, Conney AH, Alvares AP. Influence of dietary protein and carbohydrate on antipyrine and theophylline metabolism in man. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1976 Dec;20(6):643-53.
2.Welling PG, Lyons LL, Craig WA, Trochta GA. Influence of diet and fluid on bioavailability of theophylline. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1975 Apr; 17(4):475-80.
3.Pedersen S, Moller-Petersen J. Influence of food on the absorption of theophylline from a sustained release formulation (Somophyllin). Clin Allergy 1985 May;15(3):253-9.
4.Sips AP, Edelbroek PM, Kulstad S, de Wolff FA, Dijkman JH. Food does not effect in bioavailability of theophylline from Theolin Retard. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1984;26(3):405-7.
5.Lagas M, Jonkman JH. Greatly enhanced bioavailability of theophylline on postprandial administration of a sustained release tablet. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1983;24(6):761-7.
6.Karim A, Burns T, Janky D, Hurwitz A. Food-induced changes in theophylline absorption from controlled-release formulations. Part II. Importance of meal composition and dosing time relative to meal intake in assessing changes in absorption. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1985 Dec;38(6):642-7.
7.Karim A, Burns T, Wearley L, Streicher J, Palmer M. Food-induced changes in theophylline absorption from controlled-release formulations. Part I. Substantial increased and decreased absorption with Uniphyl tablets and Theo-Dur Sprinkle. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1985 Jul;38(1):77-83.

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