How Effective is Fioricet & What are its Dosage, Side Effects?

Fioricet medicine is made up of butalbital, acetaminophen and caffeine. Butalbital is one of barbiturates medicine, used to effectively relax contractions of muscles caused by tension headache. Acetaminophen is used to reduce fever and relieve pain. Caffeine is used to stimulate the central nervous system; it promotes blood flow by relaxing contracted muscles within the blood vessels.

How Does Fioricet Work?

Fioricet is a combination of caffeine, butalbital and acetaminophen. It is not clear how this medicine works, but experts assume that it intercepts certain type of clyco-oxygenase enzyme found in the brain.

Butalbital is in a group of medicines known as barbiturates. It is used to unwind muscle contractions caused by tension headaches and sedation through improvement of inhibitory effects of neurotransmitter which controls messages between the cells of the brain.

Caffeine is suspected to increase pain relieving ability of acetaminophen by 40%. It also has vasoconstrictive factors which narrows the blood vessels in the brain, hence reducing the flow of blood and oxygen tension like migraine, prior to having headache or bulging blood vessels. It also assists in pain relief.

How Effective is Fioricet?

How Effective is Fioricet?

Fioricet is prescribed for effectively treating tension headaches brought by contractions of muscles. Fioricet is successful in short term treatment of occasional tension headaches.

  • Avoid Fioricet overdose because you will become addicted to this medicine and find it hard to stop it even after completing your dose.
  • Over using this drug may also cause headache brought by overdose which is also referred to as rebound headache. This type of headache appears when analgesics have been used often to ease headache.
  • Never share your Fioricet dosage with anyone.
  • Fioricet can be used without food. However, it has been reported that food helps in reducing stomach upsets.
  • If you have used Fioricet repeatedly or you are addicted to it, inform your doctor so that you may be helped on how to withdraw without harming yourself. Abrupt stoppage can cause a withdrawal Syndrome that cause symptoms such as tremor, convulsions, lack of sleep, anxiety, nausea, hallucinations and twitching of muscles.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery when using Fioricet, due to its sedating effect.
  • Do not use alcohol when taking this medicine. Alcohol may worsen the side effects.
  • Fioricet can interact with many medications. Inform your physician or pharmacist about all the other medicines you are using before you start your Fioricet dosage.
  • Inform your physician if you experience any form of allergic reactions to Fioricet. Get immediate medical assistance when you have allergic reactions like difficulty in swallowing or breathing, swelling of your face or rashes after using Fioricet.
  • Nursing mothers or pregnant women should not use Fioricet.

Response and effectiveness of Fioricet is excellent. Acetaminophen pain relieving effects will be attained within one hour of administration. Butalbital is absorbed properly in the gastrointestinal tract; the effects of sedating and muscle relaxing are evident two hours. Butalbital has high risk of interacting with other medications because metabolized by CYP450 enzyme, in the liver. It can take effect in the body for up to 35 hours which means a repeated intake may result to over use, hence escalating the side effects. Caffeine has a short life of between 3 to 7 hours and is metabolized in the liver.

What is the Recommended Dosage of Fioricet?

General Adult Dose of Fioricet for Treating Headache

Butalbital 50 milligrams, Acetaminophen 300 milligrams and Caffeine 40 milligrams:

Take 1 or 2 capsules after every 4 hours. Administer orally.

Maximum dose is 6 doses.

Butalbital 50 milligrams, Acetaminophen 325 milligrams, and Caffeine 40 milligrams:

Take 1 or 2 capsules, tablets or tablespoonful every 4 hours. Administer orally.

Maximum dose: 6 doses per day.

Butalbital 50 milligrams, Acetaminophen 500 milligrams, Caffeine 40 milligrams:

Take 1 capsule or tablet after every 4 hours, orally.

Maximum dose: 6 doses per day.

Butalbital 50 milligrams, Acetaminophen 750 milligrams, Caffeine 40 milligrams:

Take 1 tablet for every four hours. Administer orally.

Maximum dose: 5 tablets.

Pediatric Dosage of Fioricet for Treating HEADACHE:

For children 12 years and above:

Butalbital 50 milligrams, Acetaminophen 300 milligrams, Caffeine 40 milligrams:

Give 1 or 2 tablets for every 4 hours as required. Administer orally.

Maximum dose: 6 doses daily.

What are the Side Effects of Fioricet?

Common side effects of Fioricet include nausea, short breaths, dizziness, stomach pain, vomiting, drowsiness, intoxicated feeling, sedation and lightheaded feeling.

  • Unusual side effects include excess sweating, constipation, confusion and itching.
  • Butalbital is addictive and it poses a risk of dependence in people who use Fioricet repeatedly.
  • Repeated use of Fioricet can result in overdose thus causing headache. Stoppage of this medication may also cause withdrawal syndrome.
  • Acetaminophen can cause liver problems even with recommended doses. This risk is escalated in people who take alcohol, use of other medicines, in patients with liver issues and higher dosage.
  • Fioricet is not safe for elderly people and patients with kidney and liver problems.
  • Fioricet is used for migraine headaches, but it is not FDA approved. Experts discourage its use for migraine.


Fioricet is very effective in relieving pain for short term treatment of tension headaches. However, it is addictive and sedative therefore repetitive use of Fioricet is discouraged. Try safe and simple analgesics first before you go for Fioricet.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 10, 2017

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