What Factors Affect a Sufficient Theophylline Dose?

S. Berger
S. Berger
Before prescribing theophylline to a geriatric patient, the physician must conduct a thorough patient evaluation.
Before prescribing theophylline to a geriatric patient, the physician must conduct a thorough patient evaluation.

Theophylline is a compound that occurs naturally, in substances such as tea, and may sometimes be used as a medication. Sometimes, this drug may be used to treat asthma, and other breathing conditions such as apnea. Many people require a specific theophylline dose to control their symptoms while minimizing possible side effects. Variations can occur with this dose, based on the condition being treated, as well as individual factors like age and weight.

Asthma is a more common medical condition that this substance may be taken to remedy. Often, adults begin their therapy by taking an initial loading dose based on weight. A loading theophylline dose may consist of 5 milligrams (mg) for every kilogram (kg), or 2.2 pounds of body weight. After a week of becoming accustomed to this medication, a maintenance dose of 10 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) body weight is taken by non-smokers, many times. Smokers may take a somewhat higher dose of 16 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) body weight, although most adults opt to not take more than 900 mg per day.

Older adults, over the age of 75, may also take this medication for asthma. As with younger adults, a recommended starting theophylline dose for older individuals is 5 mg for each 2.2 pounds (1 kg) body weight. Non-smokers could, after a week of therapy, increase this dose to 10 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of weight. Geriatric individuals that smoke may still continue to take this 5 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) dose, without any increase, in many cases.

Premature infants with apnea may sometimes receive this drug. At first, they may receive a dose of 4.6 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg). Infants that are less than 24 days premature may then shift to a 1 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) dose, given once every 12 hours. Alternately, infants over 24 days premature may be given a slightly higher does of 1.5 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) twice a day, 12 hours apart. Such a therapy may be continued as long as necessary, until the symptoms abate.

Medical conditions may also affect the theophylline dose that an individual would find to be appropriate. This drug is broken down, or metabolized, in the liver, and damage could cause elevated levels of theophylline in the blood with larger doses. Therefore, conditions affecting this organ could create a higher chance of side effects of theophylline if a standard dose is used. In such cases, an initial theophylline dose of 5 mg for every 2.2 pounds (1 kg) body weight is used. Usually, this dosage is not increased, and individuals with liver problems often choose to keep their total dose below 400 mg daily.

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    • Before prescribing theophylline to a geriatric patient, the physician must conduct a thorough patient evaluation.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      Before prescribing theophylline to a geriatric patient, the physician must conduct a thorough patient evaluation.