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What Is Fioricet?

Fioricet is the brand name for a medication that contains a mixture of the pain reliever acetaminophen, a barbiturate called butalbital, and caffeine. Fioricet is often prescribed for the treatment of headaches caused by tension, muscle contraction, or the accidental puncture of the dura matter during spinal or epidural anesthesia. While this is not its intended purpose, it may also be prescribed for migraines.

The three drugs in the mixture work together to fight these types of headaches: the acetaminophen is a pain reliever, the butalbital works to relax contracted blood vessels whose restricted blood flow can cause head pain, and the caffeine acts as a stimulant to further increase blood flow.

Important Information About Fioricet

This drug is not advised for people who have had liver disease or damage, as this may prevent you from being able to fully metabolize the medications. If you are in the habit of consuming three or more alcoholic beverages each day, this drug may not be safe for you to take. If you are taking Fioricet or another acetaminophen/butalbital/caffeine mixture, you should avoid taking other medications that contain acetaminophen, as overdoses of this drug may cause liver damage. (Acetaminophen is commonly found in pain relievers as well as sleep aids and cold or allergy medications.)

If you’re not sure whether another medication contains acetaminophen, check the label or consult your doctor about its safety. Because caffeine, a stimulant, is already in the medication, you should avoid other sources of stimulants, including ADHD medication, caffeinated beverages, and caffeine pills, unless your doctor instructs you that they are safe for your use.

Butalbital, as all barbiturates, can be addictive, so if you have a history of drug abuse, Fioricet may not be a suitable medication for you to take. Take care to track how much medication is still in the container to make sure no one else is taking the drugs that have been prescribed for you, and store the medication as securely as possible, especially if you live with children.

Drug Interactions

Several other drugs can interact dangerously with Fioricet and other comparable mixtures. You should avoid taking this drug if you are on MAO inhibitors, or have quit taking MAO inhibitors within the past two weeks.

If you are allergic to any of the component drugs (acetaminophen, butalbital, or caffeine) this drug is not safe for your use. Other medical conditions that can preclude taking Fioricet include having a personal history of liver or kidney disease or mental illness. You also should not take Fioricet if you have thought about or attempted suicide in the past.

Certain drugs should only be used with a doctor’s advice if you are taking Fioricet. Because Fioricet contains butalbital, a muscle relaxant, it can be dangerous in combination with other medications that cause sleepiness: sleep aids, certain cold or allergy drugs, narcotics, anti-seizure drugs, and anti-depressants. Some other drugs are also cause for caution, including blood thinners, antibiotics, certain anti-viral drugs, and steroids. Other drugs not listed here can also cause problems – the only way to be completely safe is to make sure your doctor is familiar with the entire list of medications you are currently using.

Possible Side Effects

It is not yet known whether this drug can harm a fetus, so if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should talk to your doctor before starting a course of treatment. All three of the component drugs in the mixture can be passed to an infant during breastfeeding as well, and they can be harmful to your nursing baby, so tell your doctor if you intend to breastfeed while taking Fioricet.

In most cases, side effects from taking Fioricet are fairly mild. You may experience drowsy or lightheaded feelings, gastrointestinal discomfort (nausea or vomiting, appetite and weight loss, abdominal pain), slight mood changes (anxiety, nervousness, or feeling like you are intoxicated), confusion, or dry mouth. Sometimes, symptoms can be more severe and you may need to stop taking your prescription and talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you find yourself having trouble breathing or feel your heart racing, or if you become jaundiced or start to bruise or bleed abnormally easily, you should alert your care provider so he can determine the best course of action for your further treatment.

Fioricet Overdose

It is possible to overdose on Fioricet and other acetaminophen/butalbital/caffeine mixtures. You may realize you have taken too much Fioricet if you begin vomiting, sweating profusely, or having a seizure; you may also experience a feeling of breathlessness and an erratic heart rate. Fioricet overdose can be fatal or cause you to slip into a coma, so call emergency medical services or poison control at once if you suspect this is happening to you.

Missing A Dose

Generally this medicine is taken on an as-needed basis, so you do not need to be worried about missing a dose. If you are on a schedule, take a missed dose when you remember it, but never make up for missed doses by taking extra pills at the next scheduled dosage time.

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