Fioricet Side Effects

Fioricet is a prescription medication used to relieve tension headaches. It works by relaxing muscle contractions that can result in mild to moderate head pain.

Fioricet (butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine capsule) is a combination of a barbiturate, a non-salicylate analgesic and antipyretic, and a central nervous system stimulant indicated for the relief of the symptom complex of tension (or muscle contraction) headache. Common side effects of Esgic include:

  • drowsiness
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness, sedation
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain, and
  • intoxicated feeling

The dose of Fioricet is one or two capsules every four hours. The total daily dosage of Fioricet  should not exceed 6 capsules.

Fioricet may interact with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, other narcotic analgesics, alcohol, general anesthetics, tranquilizers such as chlordiazepoxide, sedative-hypnotics, or other CNS depressants. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. During pregnancy, Fioricet should be taken only if prescribed. It is unknown if it would affect a fetus. All the drugs in Fioricet pass into breast milk, and breastfeeding while taking Fioricet is not recommended. Withdrawal symptoms may occur if you suddenly stop taking Fioricet.

Barbiturates may be habit-forming: Tolerance, psychological dependence, and physical dependence may occur especially following prolonged use of high doses of barbiturates. The average daily dose for the barbiturate addict is usually about 1500 mg.

As tolerance to barbiturates develops, the amount needed to maintain the same level of intoxication increases; tolerance to a fatal dosage, however, does not increase more than two-fold. As this occurs, the margin between an intoxication dosage and fatal dosage becomes smaller.

The lethal dose of a barbiturate is far less if alcohol is also ingested. Major withdrawal symptoms (convulsions and delirium) may occur within 16 hours and last up to 5 days after abrupt cessation of these drugs. Intensity of withdrawal symptoms gradually declines over a period of approximately 15 days. Treatment of barbiturate dependence consists of cautious and gradual withdrawal of the drug.

Barbiturate-dependent patients can be withdrawn by using a number of different withdrawal regimens. One method involves initiating treatment at the patient’s regular dosage level and gradually decreasing the daily dosage as tolerated by the patient.

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is distributed throughout most body tissues. The plasma half-life is 1.25 to 3 hours, but may be increased by liver damage and following overdosage. Elimination of acetaminophen is principally by liver metabolism (conjugation) and subsequent renal excretion of metabolites. Approximately 85% of an oral dose appears in the urine within 24 hours of administration, most as the glucuronide conjugate, with small amounts of other conjugates and unchanged drug.

Caffeine

Like most xanthines, caffeine is rapidly absorbed and distributed in all body tissues and fluids, including the CNS, fetal tissues, and breast milk.

Caffeine is cleared through metabolism and excretion in the urine. The plasma half-life is about 3 hours. Hepatic biotransformation prior to excretion, results in about equal amounts of 1-methylxanthine and 1-methyluric acid. Of the 70% of the dose that is recovered in the urine, only 3% is unchanged drug.