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® (Butalbital, Acetaminophen, and Caffeine Tablets USP) is supplied in tablet form for oral administration.

Each tablet contains the following active ingredients:
butalbital USP . . . . . . . . . . . .50 mg
acetaminophen USP . . . . . . 325 mg
caffeine USP . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 mg

Understanding the side effects associated with Fioricet

The narcotic drugs are helpful to treat many pain ailments, but they come with a plenty of side effects too. If not used as prescribed by the doctor can lead to harmful and serious side effects too. Some of the side effects are mild and they vanish with time as your body gets used to the medicine, but some serious side effects like overdose of these drugs can be fatal too. Fioricet is also among the narcotic drugs having mild to serious side effects.

Let us understand about the possible side effects of Fioricet depending upon their severity.

Frequently observed side effects

Some of the adverse reactions of Fioricet observed frequently are

  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Intoxicated feeling

Infrequent observed side effects

Listed below are some infrequently observed side effects of Fioricet

Central nervous system

  • Shaky feeling,
  • headache,
  • heavy eyelids,
  • fainting,
  • agitation,
  • hot spells,
  • seizure,
  • fatigue, high energy,
  • Sluggishness and numbness.

Excitement and mental confusion can occur due to sensitivity, especially in debilitated or elder patients or because of over dosage of butalbital.

Nervous system (Autonomic)

Dry mouth and hyperhidrosis


Heartburn, constipation, flatulence and difficulty in swallowing are some gastrointestinal related side effects seen in patients.


Muscle fatigue and leg pain




Fever, nasal congestion, tinnitus, pruritus, euphoria and other allergic reactions

There are some rare side effects associated with consumption of Fioricet, which are not known to patients. Let us know about them.

  • Decreased blood platelets
  • Decreased white blood cells
  • Liver failure (acute)
  • Extra heartbeat
  • Giant hives
  • Memory loss
  • Rickets
  • Trouble in breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling restless
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Rash
  • Skin redness
  • Swelling in vocal cords
  • Skin inflammation
  • Hallucination
  • Throat tightness

The side effects can be mild to severe, but you should consult your doctor if any symptoms persist, so that you can treat the side effects. Many people using Fioricet do not have any severe side effects. It depends from person to person, so doctor is the right person to judge the side effects and adjust the dosage accordingly.

Do not ignore the side effects as they can be serious too. For lightheadedness and dizziness, you can try getting up slowly from your bed from a lying or sitting position.

For side effects like constipation, you can switch to a simple diet which can aid the process of digestion properly. You should trust your doctor as your doctor knows the right dosage for you. Do not try to change the dosage or stop taking the medicine on your own. Your doctor will help you adjust your dose and reduce side effects gradually.

Altering the dosage of Fioricet on your own can lead to various other problems that you might not be able to understand and deal with. Consult your doctor if your current dose is causing any side effects.

For serious side effects, you must consult your doctor immediately to avoid adverse effects.

Knowing about Fioricet medicine

Fioricet medicine is a popular brand name for a blend of three drugs, which comprise of caffeine, butalbital and acetaminophen. The combination of these three drugs is used to treat migraines, tension headaches and different types of other pain ailments. Fioricet is not clearly labeled as a common pain reliever. The medicine is  available only with your doctor’s prescription, but if you are suffering from tension headache, it is better to speak to your doctor about the effects of using Fioricet to manage serious or recurring headaches.

Fioricet was approved by FDA in 1984 and Novartis Pharmaceuticals was its original manufacturer. In 2003, Watson pharmaceuticals now known as Actavis, purchased the rights to sell Fioricet. Many manufacturers are now selling Fioricet in generic form as well. The original formulation of the medicine included

Mechanism of formulation

Butalbital is a type of sedative used as a muscle relaxer in Fioricet, the butalbital is used to alleviate the muscle tension that occurs due to tension headaches. One should take Fioricet as prescribed by the doctor and should avoid the dependency on drug. Do not exceed the recommended dose.

Caffeine is used in Fioricet to improve the efficacy of acetaminophen. When taking Fioricet, the patients should not take substances that contain caffeine to avoid overdose and nervousness caused by high consumption of caffeine.

Acetaminophen is a popular pain reliever, which is also available   over the counter. Since acetaminophen is easily available, the patients taking Fioricet should be familiar with the contents of any other medications, they are using to prevent overdose.

According to FDA guidelines, the manufacturers are recommended to restrict the dose of acetaminophen in different prescription products.

Fioricet plus codeine

Another formula which includes Fioricet and codeine is also discovered by Actavis to deal with tension headaches. It comprises of 30 mg- codeine along with other 3 drugs and contains increased dose of acetaminophen, which is 325mg.

The Fioricet plus codeine comes in a black box with a warning about how it can be toxic for your liver, lead to respiratory problems and death in kids caused by codeine.

Addiction and Abuse

In Fioricet, the sedative known as butalbital is present, which belongs to the class of certain drugs known as barbiturates, a depressant that can affect your central nervous system. It has the ability to cause psychological and physical dependence which can result in abuse.

Those who take too much medicine (Fioricet) may discover that they are stress free and feel relaxed. This makes them addictive to the drug as they start taking high doses to get the satisfactory results.  Some people say that they feel intoxicated. However, people can get into depression once the effect of medicine goes off.

Despite of its risks, Fioricet is an effective medicine to manage migraines and tension headaches. When used under the supervision of an experienced doctor and when taken as prescribed by the doctor can help people get great results.

Fioricet Drug Interactions that you should know

Drug interactions can change the effects of how the medication works for you or increase the risk of unwanted side effects. Maintain a list of all other products you use apart from Fioricet. These products can be non prescription or prescription drugs, herbal supplements etc., and share the list with your pharmacist or doctor. Do not try to stop, change the dosage or start any of the medicines without consulting your doctor.

Some products that can interact with Fioricet comprise of

  1. Oxybate
  2. Sodium
  3. Darunavir
  4. Drugs that affect liver enzymes and flush out the medication from the body like macrolide antibiotics such as valproic acid, rasagiline,cimetedine, disulfiram, erythromycin MAO inhibitors, fluvoxamine, methylene blue, phenelzine moclobemide, ), isoniazid, procarbazine, selegiline, phenothiazines, tranylcypromine, lithium etc.,

Fioricet accelerates the elimination of other drugs from the body by affecting some liver enzymes. These drugs that are affected include, blood thinners like estrogen, doxycycline, felodipine, theophylline etc.,

Also let your doctor know about any other drowsiness causing drugs that you are using like anti-seizure drugs or antihistamines or medicines for anxiety or sleeping disorders, muscle relaxants, psychiatric medicines  or narcotic pain relievers.

Check the labels before you buy any medicines for yourself even for cough or cold because they may contain caffeine or other components that cause drowsiness. Remember some beverages also contain caffeine like colas, coffee, tea and energy drinks. Consult your pharmacist to know how you can use these products safely.

Fioricet can also reduce the potency of birth control hormonal pills, ring or patch. This can lead to pregnancy. Consult your pharmacist or doctor if you should use other birth control options while using this medicine. Also let your doctor know if you experience breakthrough bleeding or new spotting as this can be the indication that your birth control technique is not functioning properly.

Fioricet can also interfere with certain laboratory or medical tests, resulting in giving incorrect test results. Make sure your doctor or laboratory personnel know that you are using this drug.

Alcohol and Fioricet

Check with your doctor regarding alcohol consumption while taking Fioricet. The medicine might increase the intoxication effects of alcohol. Drinking when you are on Fioricet may result in liver damage due to acetaminophen.

It is very important to know about the drug interaction with all other medications you are using including supplements and simple medications used for cold and cough. Knowing about the contents of medications you are using, you can easily know about the risk linked to drug interactions. You can also let your doctor know about the other medications you are using so that your doctor helps you know Fioricet interactions with those medicines.

You can avoid the risks linked to drug interactions and in case you experience any unusual symptoms, you can connect with your doctor. Though Fioricet is quite useful, it comes with a lot of restrictions too, you just need to take care of those limitations to get better results. Try to get maximum benefits from your drug.

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