What is Fioricet ?

What is Fioricet?

Fioricet contains a combination of acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Butalbital is in a group of drugs called barbiturates. It relaxes muscle contractions involved in a tension headache. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It relaxes muscle contractions in blood vessels to improve blood flow.

Fioricet is used to treat tension headaches that are caused by muscle contractions.

Fioricet may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is Fioricet?

Fioricet is a prescription medicine that’s used to relieve tension headaches primarily because it relaxes the muscle contractions that cause head pain, ranging in severity from mild to moderate in most cases.

A tension headache is different from a migraine because as was touched on above, it’s believed that migraines stem from neurological issues, whereas a tension headache is often the result of triggers like stress, bad posture, or tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Tension headaches don’t necessarily affect your vision, strength or balance, but a true migraine can affect all of these things. Migraines can also cause nausea and vomiting.

Additionally, tension headaches don’t have a genetic component, whereas migraines often run in families.

All of these distinctions are important to recognize when considering what Fioricet is used for, and why it’s not necessarily the best treatment option for migraines.

Fioricet contains three primary ingredients which are butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine.

Butalbital is a barbiturate, and it can relieve muscular tension by acting as somewhat of a muscle relaxant, and it can also relieve pain because it acts on the central nervous system. Along with releasing muscle contractions, butalbital can also create a sense of relaxation and relieve symptoms of anxiety. The acetaminophen acts as a pain reliever, and the caffeine can open up the flow of blood through blood vessels, which is thought to help with some headache pain.

So, with all that being said, people wonder if Fioricet is used for headaches, can it also be used for migraines?

Important information

You should not use Fioricet if you have porphyria, or if you have recently used alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications.

Do not use Fioricet if you have taken a MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.

Do not take more Fioricet than is recommended. An overdose of acetaminophen can damage your liver or cause death.Call your doctor at once if you have nausea, pain in your upper stomach, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes).

In rare cases, acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction. Stop taking Fioricet and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling.

Before taking this medicine

Do not use Fioricet if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.

You should not use Fioricet if you are allergic to acetaminophen, butalbital, or caffeine, if you have porphyria, or if you have recently used alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications.

To make sure Fioricet is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease, cirrhosis, a history of alcoholism or drug addiction, or if you drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day;
  • kidney disease;
  • asthma, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorder;
  • stomach ulcer or bleeding;
  • a history of skin rash caused by any medication;
  • a history of mental illness or suicidal thoughts; or
  • if you use medicine to prevent blood clots.

It is not known whether Fioricet will harm an unborn baby. If you use butalbital while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

This medicine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Fioricet?

Take Fioricet exactly as prescribed. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take more of this medication than recommended. An overdose can damage your liver or cause death. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.

Butalbital may be habit-forming. Never share Fioricet with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away Fioricet is against the law.

Take Fioricet with food or milk if it upsets your stomach.

Store Fioricet at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Butalbital is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Fioricet may be used as a migraine treatment, but it’s not a first or even second choice among physicians. There are a few reasons. First, as was touched on above, Fioricet is primarily used for the treatment of tension headaches, which are very different from migraines. A lot of doctors feel that Fioricet doesn’t even necessarily work on migraine pain. There are a lot of other treatment options that are more specifically for the treatment of migraines, and they work in ways that are different from Fioricet.

According to the FDA, Fioricet isn’t approved for the treatment of migraines at all. It may have some benefits for migraine sufferers in that it can provide them with a sense of physiological calmness because of how it works on the central nervous system, but there again are better ways to treat migraines.

Another reason Fioricet isn’t necessarily an ideal migraine treatment is because of the risks that come with it.

Butalbital is a substance that can be habit-forming, and the use of Fioricet has actually led to addiction problems and physical dependence for some of the people who use it. It may be a prescription medicine, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s risk-free.

Another risk associated with the use of Fioricet is the potential for liver toxicity from acetaminophen. Acetaminophen taken in large doses can result in liver injury and failure, and it has to be taken carefully and only as prescribed.

So, to sum up, what is Fioricet used for? The FDA approves the use of this prescription medication for the treatment of tension headaches primarily, as well as something called a post-dural puncture headache, which can occur following something like anesthesia administered in the spine. The FDA doesn’t approve Fioricet for the treatment of migraine headaches, both because it’s not the most effective available treatment option, and also because there are risks that come with the use of Fioricet including addiction, dependence and side effects like potential liver toxicity.

Fioricet dosing information

Usual Adult Dose of Fioricet for Headache:

Acetaminophen 300 mg, butalbital 50 mg, and caffeine 40 mg:
1 or 2 capsule(s) orally every 4 hours as needed. Maximum daily dose: 6 doses.

Acetaminophen 325 mg, butalbital 50 mg, and caffeine 40 mg:
1 or 2 tablet(s), capsule(s), or tablespoonful(s) orally every 4 hours.
Maximum daily dose: 6 doses

Acetaminophen 500 mg, butalbital 50 mg, and caffeine 40 mg:
1 tablet or capsule orally every 4 hours.
Maximum daily dose: 6 doses

Acetaminophen 750 mg, butalbital 50 mg, and caffeine 40 mg:
1 tablet orally every 4 hours.
Maximum daily dose: 5 tablets

Usual Pediatric Dose of Fioricet for Headache:

12 years and older:
Acetaminophen 300 mg, butalbital 50 mg, and caffeine 40 mg:
1 or 2 capsule(s) orally every 4 hours as needed. Maximum daily dose: 6 doses.

See also:

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since this medicine is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are on a schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Fioricet can be fatal.

The first signs of an acetaminophen overdose include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, and confusion or weakness. Later symptoms may include pain in your upper stomach, dark urine, and yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

Overdose symptoms may also include insomnia, restlessness, tremor, diarrhea, increased shallow breathing, uneven heartbeats, seizure (convulsions), or fainting.

What should I avoid while taking Fioricet?

This medication can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage while taking acetaminophen.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any other cold, allergy, pain, or sleep medication. Acetaminophen (sometimes abbreviated as APAP) is contained in many combination medicines. Taking certain products together can cause you to get too much acetaminophen which can lead to a fatal overdose. Check the label to see if a medicine contains acetaminophen or APAP.

While you are taking this medication, avoid taking diet pills, caffeine pills, or other stimulants (such as ADHD medications) without your doctor’s advice.

Fioricet side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Fioricet: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

In rare cases, acetaminophen may cause a severe skin reaction that can be fatal. This could occur even if you have taken acetaminophen in the past and had no reaction. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have skin redness or a rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling. If you have this type of reaction, you should never again take any medicine that contains acetaminophen.

Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • confusion, seizure (convulsions);
  • shortness of breath;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out; or
  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Common Fioricet side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness;
  • feeling anxious or restless;
  • drunk feeling; or
  • sleep problems (insomnia).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

 

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What other drugs will affect Fioricet?

Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking Fioricet with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Other drugs may interact with acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.