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Hello and theophylline


I've been nosing about this forum for a while. If you can read through the background to my question about theophylline that'd be fab.

Brief history. Have had asthma since approx 3 years old am now 36. Past 5 years asthma has gone from what I'd say pretty typical asthma is (low dose steroid inhaler, slight flare ups with viral infections, occassional chest infection and not needing ventoline requently and never needed A&E).

Past 5 years have had more and more frequent chest and sinus infections and added and added meds. Have had a few trips to A&E (only 1-2 year), luckily not needed hospilisation, apart from when rushed to hosp with pneuomonia at 36 weeks pregnant at end of 2009 (have lovely little boy a few weeks later). Basically get frequent chest and sinus infections that take ages to clear and have had some sort of respiratory infection every 2-6 weeks since this time last year. And have only had about 4-5 months off this cycle in past 2.5 years. Had sinus surgery this summer, which improved my breathing through nose and ability to douche muck off when it's infected. Am seeing a consultant and a very good asthma nurse regularly.

Inbetween flare ups/infections I am quite fit and cycle to work and play sport several times a week. But with the steroid (extreme munchies!) I've been on and decrease in activity have put on 3/4 stone this year and lost some fitness which is annoying as have always felt fitter I am better my asthma has been.

Peak flow - my best is 400. Worst when had pneuomonia and pleurisy and recent chest infection 280. Anything below 350 normally means something is up with my chest.

Meds I'm on:

Ventolin - as needed. (When I'm good don't need it. When bad need lots)

Symbicort 400 - 2 x am/pm (can increase to 4 am/pm)

Pred - maintenance of 5mg (hoping to come off at some point as been on at some level constantly for nearly 6 months)

Nasonex - 2 squirts each nose pm (was on flixonase nasules but nose clearer after sinus surgery in summer)



Theophylline - Uniphyllin 200mg am/pm


Also on mottillium and omeprazole for reflux

QUESTION: I got put on theophylline at end of September to help wean me off oral steroids that I'd been on since May (doses between 5-40mg, everytime got it down bang another infection). Had cramps and nausea initially and then it settled down. Past 3 days have had much worse stomach cramps and nauseau, reflux symptoms (acid) seems to have increased, plus quite thirsty and have what I describe as eggy breath. Is this normal?

I think this drug is working for me as just had a heavy head cold followed by sinus infection and although got asthma symptoms didn't develop a chest infection (first time in several years this has happened). So am loath to come off it.

Also had a small attack last night when was feeling sick. My peak flow is in the good range for me. But before my asthma got worse my peakflow didn't always reflect what my chest is doing.


Abs x

7 Replies

If you didn't have any nausea when you started Theophylline (Common Side effect), I am wondering whether you might have a bit of virus, accompanied with the not so nice breath does sound a bit like you might have infection brewing. With respect to the reflux maybe your current medication needs adjusting, I am on max of reflux meds and when I am under the weather find that I still get some reflux. Sorry that I cannot be of any further help in that department. By the way don't give yourself too hard a time about the weight gain, it can't be helped and to be honest what you do each week sounds pretty amazing to me.


Side effects from Theophylline seem to vary between people. I always get a bit of nauseau and increased heart beat, but my teenage son (who takes a higher dose than me) has never had any side effects. He just seems to soak up all his meds! His asthma has been much better controlled since being on Theophylline and I wouldnt be without it. I'm not sure if the symptoms you describe are linked to Theophylline but it might be a good idea to check it out with your GP. If your asthma is better I would be inclined to persevere with it.


Ahhh good call on the virus. That explains the cramps, nausea, asthma attack and nearly fainting... Took my temp last night 37.8.

Down near normal now and taking lots of rest. Lets hope it doesn't trigger a bacterial inf. (pretty please)

Thanks guys xx


Abs, a GP i saw once (not my usual one) said that a temp of 37.8 is the minimu for them o consider you have a fever. but i know i can feel really crummby with a normal temp, its weird...anyone else get this?


Abs, don't know about theophylline as I haven't taken it. Hope you feel better soon & your chest/sinuses clear up.

I also cycle to work, much quicker and can park outside the door unlike with driving. I have also had sinus (+deviated septum & ethmoid) surgery in the summer, don't think there's too many others on here. I haven't had chest infections particularly but this all has been worse since cold/flu over last Christmas which has seen worst ever asthma for me (with no A&E/admissions just but a lot of med. increases) & sinusitis/constant post nasal gunge. Still struggling with pain/infection 3 months post surgery. Chest wise seems to be better touchwood, annoyingly so that resp. consultant not convinced I have asthma as tests done when well. Also found better in the mornings too since starting lansoprazole for reflux.

Hannahrose also tend to have lower temperatures, often cold & shivery with infections, 37ish high for me as well not the usual 38.


Hi Abs,

Sorry to hear that you are going through a rough patch. Sounds similar to mine.

My ashtma was stable up until about three years ago and now is really bad.

On a similar concoction on medication as yourself. On pred as and when I need it and up to 60mg a day when bad with the side affect that I have also put on about 2 stone.

Symbicort 400 3 puff am/pm is my control dose. Nasal spray and loratadine 10mg per day.

Singular and singular. Quinine Sulphate for the funky chicken legs (leg cramps).

Nebs at home with Atrovent and Ventollin when bad with asthma.

Was started on theophlline (Nuelin sa) at the beginning of this year with 175 mg am/pm. Had some nausea at start but ok now. Seems to work well when I don't have a chest infection, but when ill, need nebs and high dose of pred and antibiotics.

Was really ill in may and ended up in hospital for 10 days and they measured my theophlline levels in blood. My levels were too low and they increased my dose to 350mg at night.

If your blood levels are too low, it's not really doing a good job. If it's too high it can lead to getting really ill as well.

If you have been on antibiotics, you need to watch as well as when I was in hospital, I was seen by the pharmacist and they told me to be careful and get bloods checked when on antibiotics as these can alter the blood level of theophylline. Now that I get blood test every couple of months to check blood levels, the nausea and unsettled sleep seem to have settled.

My consultant has told me that theophylline blood tests need to be carried out regularly to ensure levels are correct.

Hope this helps.





It's really interesting (and reasurring) to learn that people are going through such a similar time. I'm sorry that you guys are having to though.

Neil, thanks for the tips about theophylline. I know they're checking my bloods in december.

TJ, sorry you're still having probs with nose. My surgery went really well and was out the same day. And I've been lots better since being treated for reflux too. Didn't know I had it, but just felt sick and had sore throat all time. Glad there's another cycle to work person on here. Yes tis much faster than other modes. And my todder loves being on the back.

Temperature wise. I am a wuss. Feel ropey at 37.4. Start shaking at 37.8. Moaning and cramps over 38. And vomiting at 39 and above. Whereas my husband and little boy both had swine flu last winter with temps up near 40 and both just slept through it.

This is the first test on my chest since starting theophylline. So had this weird viral and small asthma attack thing this week, a sinus infection the week before and a cold (which caused the sinus thing) the week before that. Had increased asthma symptoms during such but no chest infection (touchwood). Fingers crossed this continues as it's been an exhausting year or two and would like to enjoy my toddler without being ill every few weeks.


Abs x


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