British Lung Foundation
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Aminophylline or Theophylline? Anyone know about half-lifes and / or how long one has to be off the drug before effective anti-biotic works?

Consultant(s) suggested Aminophylline on a three month trial. They wrote to GP who has prescribed Theophylline. I understand that they are very similar in effect but am concerned about how long they stay active in body. Why? I have frequent chest infections (minimum 6 a year) so likelihood is that I will have to take antibiotics at least once during trial. When taking antibiotics I have to stop the Aminophylline / Theophylline as they mess up the absorption / effectiveness of the antibiotics.

Both my wife and I remember being told that the Aminophylline clears the system quicker but cannot remember who / where we got the information. Given that it will be an infection that finishes me I'm keen to minimize the chances!

I don't have a wide range of antibiotic choice - two seem to work - can supply names if needed.

6 Replies

Hi ukdeadhead,

Interesting question.... Best information I can find is on the Wikipedia pages for each, if you can get through the medical technical language. All the required info seems to be there, actions, interactions, pluses and minuses. Of concern with these drugs are certain antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, norfloxacin, which increase the toxicity of theophyline. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT SPECIFICALLY KNOWN BY MYSELF, BUT WHAT I HAVE TAKEN FROM THE WIKIPEDIA PAGES. Links to them are:

Take care, and especially read the leaflets you get with the medicine.

Breathe easy



Hi ukdeadhead - I take uniphyllin (theophyllin) but have never been told it will affect the effect of antibiotics. Having said that, I've never had a blood test since starting it quite a few years ago and I believe you're supposed to have them now and then. And, although it's changing the subject slightly, for a few years now I've been taking Dekristol capsules once a month (Vitamin D) for osteoporosis, prescribed by my osteo consultant - I've only just found out that not only are they not licensed in the UK but also contain peanut oil - good job I'm not allergic eh? I've never been given a leaflet or anything with them, they just come as 2 capsules in a generic brown bottle. Our lives in their hands!!


Hiya, I'm on Phyllocontin (Amminophyline), and I occasionally have to reduce the dosage depending on which antibiotics I am taking. Otherwise I have never had a problem with it. Best advice is to speak to your GP or consultant. Take care, Richard.


Hi, I was on slo phyllin had no problems but the last time I was in hospital with a chest infection they stopped them without really giving me a reason. Believe you should have regular blood tests when on this drug. Susie Q


OK and thank you for all your comments.

I understand about the blood tests -I've talked to the GP about this and it will be kept on top of.

The two antibiotics I use are normally clarithromycin and if that isn't working I move on to ciprofloxacin. The 'bumf' says not to take either with the theophylline - the toxicity as mentioned above being a potential problem.

I suppose it is the same old story; consultant suggests one thing and GP prescribes another, albeit very similar. Consultant is a leading edge guy but maybe GP has prescribing constraints placed on him by local PCT or is less comfortable with what maybe a new drug to him as opposed to an old faithful.

I figure I'll read a bit more, start the treatment and get back to the consultant via community respiratory team to see if he has a comment. Could do with an improvement over current breathlessness so hope that prescription helps.

Thanks again folks


I take prophylactic clarithromicin with uniphylline daily my dose of uniphylline is reduce to ward off nasty side effects from the theophylinne but remains within therapeutic levels. Both drugs work extremely well together and have been a life changer for me. Best of luck to you.


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