For over 50 years, theophylline has been used regularly for the management of chronic asthma. However, because of its perceived narrow therapeutic index and the fact that it has been considered a weak bronchodilator, the use of theophylline therapy has diminished. Furthermore, with the introduction of newer pharmacologic agents and recommendations in widely accepted guidelines, both nationally and internationally, have further contributed to its decreased use. For years, theophylline has not only been considered a bronchodilator, but for many clinicians, an agent that could be used to enhance respiratory muscle function and mucociliary clearance and act at the level of the central nervous system to enhance ventilation. These properties were felt to be potentially useful for patients with severe exacerbated asthma. Recent studies have suggested that theophylline therapy can play a beneficial role in the management of both chronic stable asthma and exacerbated disease treated in the emergency department setting. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence suggests that theophylline has certain antiinflammatory and immunomodulating properties, even at plasma concentration levels below the accepted therapeutic range. If this is true, then theophylline may act best as a controller medication in the management of asthma. Because of its low cost and its ease of administration, theophylline therapy should be revisited and discussed as not only a reliever of bronchospasm, but a controller of chronic asthma.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1996-11-01
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- Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.
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