Why is this medication prescribed?
Pentoxifylline is used to improve blood flow in patients with circulation problems to reduce aching, cramping, and tiredness in the hands and feet. It works by decreasing the thickness (viscosity) of blood. This change allows your blood to flow more easily, especially in the small blood vessels of the hands and feet.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Pentoxifylline comes as an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. It usually is taken three times a day. Do not break, crush, or chew the tablets; swallow them whole. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take pentoxifylline exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Although you may feel the effects of this medication in 2-4 weeks, you may need to take it for up to 8 weeks before you feel the full effect of pentoxifylline.
Pentoxifylline controls the symptoms of circulation problems, but does not cure them. Continue to take pentoxifylline even if you feel well. Do not stop taking pentoxifylline without talking to your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
Pentoxifylline also is used for leg ulcers, strokes, high-altitude sickness, eye and ear disorders, and sickle cell disease and to treat pain from diabetic neuropathy. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking pentoxifylline,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to caffeine-containing products (coffee, tea, colas), pentoxifylline, theobromine, theophylline (Theo-Dur), or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin) and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking pentoxifylline, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking pentoxifylline.
- you should know that this drug may make you drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how it affects you.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Take pentoxifylline with meals to prevent upset stomach. If symptoms continue, tell your doctor. Your dose may need to be decreased.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Pentoxifylline may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
If you experience either of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- chest pain
- fast heartbeat
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure may need to be checked regularly, especially if you are taking other heart medications.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.