Along with its needed effects, Fioricet may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Fioricet is a prescription medicine given to people who suffer from tension headaches and migraines. It is a combination of three primary ingredients which are butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine. Butalbital is the component of the drug that can cause a Fioricet high, as it’s a barbiturate. Barbiturates act as a central nervous system depressant, much like drugs like opioids and other muscle relaxants.
The acetaminophen works to relieve pain in a different way for the butalbital, and the caffeine is included to help improve blood flow that can reduce the symptoms of migraines and headaches.
While in general Fioricet is thought of as a headache medicine, regarding FDA approval, it’s intended for three specific types of headaches. These are muscle contraction, tension, and post-dural puncture headaches. The FDA does not necessarily approve it as a treatment for migraines, but many doctors do prescribe it for this.
While there are risks and an abuse potential with Fioricet, people who suffer from headaches can find tremendous relief in the use of this drug.
Fioricet Side Effects
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Bleeding or crusting sores on lips
- chest pain
- fever with or without chills
- hive-like swellings (large) on eyelids, face, lips, and/or tongue
- muscle cramps or pain
- red, thickened, or scaly skin
- shortness of breath, troubled breathing, tightness in chest, or wheezing
- skin rash, itching, or hives
- sores, ulcers, or white spots in mouth (painful)
Symptoms of overdose
- Anxiety, confusion, excitement, irritability, nervousness, restlessness, or trouble in sleeping (severe, especially with products containing caffeine)
- convulsions (seizures) (for products containing caffeine)
- diarrhea, especially if occurring together with increased sweating, loss of appetite, and stomach cramps or pain
- dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, or weakness, (severe)
- frequent urination (for products containing caffeine)
- hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there)
- increased sensitivity to touch or pain (for products containing caffeine)
- muscle trembling or twitching (for products containing caffeine)
- nausea or vomiting, sometimes with blood
- ringing or other sounds in ears (for products containing caffeine)
- seeing flashes of “zig-zag” lights (for products containing caffeine)
- shortness of breath or unusually slow or troubled breathing
- slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat
- slurred speech
- swelling, pain, or tenderness in the upper abdomen or stomach area
- unusual movements of the eyes
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Confusion (mild)
- mental depression
- unusual excitement (mild)
- Bloody or black, tarry stools
- bloody urine
- pinpoint red spots on skin
- swollen or painful glands
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness (mild
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Bloated or “gassy” feeling
- dizziness or lightheadedness (mild)
- drowsiness (mild)
- nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain (occurring without other symptoms of overdose)
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Butalbital exerts its toxicity through excessive sedation, resulting in respiratory depression and ultimately death via hypoxia.
Nonlethal overdoses may also result in coma and death. There is no specific antidote to barbiturate overdose; treatment is supportive, generally including the administration of intravenous saline, naloxone, thiamine, glucose, sodium bicarbonate to alkalize the urine and increase rate of excretion, and activated charcoal via nasogastric tube.
Acetaminophen exerts its toxicity through the production of a toxic metabolite that can cause liver damage at doses as low as four grams.
Larger doses can precipitate acute liver failure, acute kidney injury, or gastrointestinal bleeding; death has been known to occur with ingestion of ten to fifteen grams.
The specific antidote to acetaminophen overdose is N-acetylcysteine