What is Aminophylline?

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  • Written By: Melanie Smeltzer
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Aminophylline is a bronchodilator used to help treat and prevent restricted breathing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. This medication is generally prescribed to those who suffer from asthma and lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It works by decreasing lung sensitivity to allergens and foreign substances, relaxing muscles in both the chest and lungs, and increasing contractions in the diaphragm.

This medication is a combination of the compounds ethylenediamine and the bronchodilator theophylline. Together, these two compounds help to relieve many of the symptoms associated with asthma and lung disease. Aminophylline works by allowing the muscles that surround the airway and lungs to relax, which will cause the bronchioles to open up, allowing air to flow in and out with more ease. This medication also helps the diaphragm contract and strengthen. In addition, aminophylline is said to help lower sensitivity in the lungs, which may decrease the immune response that can contribute to asthma attacks.


As well as treating breathing conditions, aminophylline may potentially be of use in other areas. This medication is sometimes used as an ingredient in body-fat reducer creams. When topically applied, it is said to expel any excess water from the skin, which may help reduce the appearance of cellulite. There is also potential for this drug to treat other conditions, such as bradycardia and anaphylactic shock. Additionally, it is sometimes used to help cats and dogs with breathing conditions, as well as pulmonary edema and heart failure.

Aminophylline is usually given in tablet form, but may also come as a liquid, suppository or injection. It is often administered in daily doses that should be taken every six, eight, or 12 hours, though frequency will vary from person to person. This drug may interact with certain foods or other medications. Foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, cola, or chocolate, should not be consumed in large quantities. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors, certain hormones, and some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided while taking this medication, as they may affect how it works or increase side effects.

As with most medications, aminophylline may cause some side effects. Milder side effects may include stomach complaints, headache, irritability, or trouble sleeping. More severe reactions include a change in heart rate or heartbeat, seizures, or skin allergies. Patients are generally advised to contact their doctor if severe side effects occur or mild ones become persistent.


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