Fioricet Effects – How Long-Term Use Impacts The Body

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Currently, doctors prescribe Fioricet for tension and migraine headaches. In any case, they occur when muscles contracts.
This is the primary drug offered for relief to intense headaches. People have used Fioricet for over thirty years after their approval by the FDA in 1984.
Fioricet is made from Acetaminophen, Butalbital, and Caffeine in varying degrees of measurement. These days, people mostly use Acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce fever. Butalbital is a barbiturate. It helps reduce the contraction of muscles which cause tension headaches. In this case, it induces relaxation and lessens anxiety. Caffeine stimulates the CNS and affects the blood flow through the blood vessels. In addition, it helps increase the effects of Acetaminophen.
Incidentally, there is also a version of Fioricet which contains 30mg of codeine. It comes with an increased dose of acetaminophen to 325mg. Notably, this prescription carries a “black box” warning. This has a strong tendency toward liver damage.
Unfortunately, there have been cases when using or abusing Fioricet has proven fatal. This is despite its myriad benefits.

Cautions For Fioricet Use

Effects of Using Fioricet
Fioricet should not be used at certain conditions. First, it is if one has narcotics and alcohol in the system. Second, it’s if one has an underlying medical condition called porphyria (a rare inherited blood disorder).
It’s not recommended to take this drug during pregnancy. At the moment, it’s not entirely known if using Fioricet will cause any harm to the unborn child. However, some health experts claim that the baby could be born addicted. If the baby is an addict, the withdrawal symptoms could be life-threatening. The excessive Fioricet use by the mother has many dangerous effects on the baby. For example, there are reports of miscarriage as well as fetal growth. Likewise, if one is a nursing mom, Fioricet may cause restlessness in a newborn.
Elderly patients (those over 60) may feel depressed after taking Fioricet. Therefore, strict adherence to the instructions is imperative. Furthermore, patients with insomnia should not take it.
In children under 12 years of age, doctors should prescribe dosage based on their weight. The CNS effects could be more adverse in children. One should also take caution if there is a diagnosis of a seizure disorder.


This ingredient can be damaging to the liver. It can cause the need for a transplant or even death. The cause of most of the injuries is by taking more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) a day. Also, it possibly includes other drugs containing Acetaminophen.
Fioricet capsules contain 50mg Butalbital, 325mg Acetaminophen, and 40mg of Caffeine. It also comes with twelve inactive ingredients.


A barbiturate which acts in a short or intermediate way. Before starting Fioricet, tell a doctor:

  • If one has any liver disease
  • Alcoholism or drug addiction in history
  • More than three alcoholic beverages daily
  • Any breathing disorders
  • If one has an ulcer
  • Skin allergic reactions to any medication
  • If one has suffered from depression or any mental illness
  • If one is taking any blood clot prevention medication

There are certain medications that one should avoid. This is during some periods when eating certain types of food. Something as common as cabbage can affect how the drug acts in the system. Notably, the doctor may have different instructions when taking this with various foods. They include over the counter drugs and vitamin supplements.

Overdosing on Fioricet

The symptoms of Acetaminophen overdose include:

  • Upper stomach pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Urine darkening
  • Stools the color of the clay
  • Severe skin rash, blistering and peeling

Fioricet Dosage

The dosage is usually one or two capsules every four hours. Moreover, no more than six capsules a day should be taken. It is based on medical condition, age, and the possible response to the medication. The first sign of a headache is the time to take it. To wait until one has a full-fledged headache could weaken its effect.

Common Side Effects of Fioricet

  • Sleepiness
  • Feeling relaxed
  • Feeling intoxicated
  • Insomnia

Which Warning Signs of Fioricet Prompt Visit the Doctor?

Sometimes, there might be the first appearance of any of these signs after taking the drug. As a result, one should consider getting an appointment with a doctor. This way, one can discuss whether to continue taking the medicine or not.

  • Stomach pain
  • Gums bleeding
  • Changing in urination frequency
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Having a hard time focusing

Which Side Effects of Fioricet Requires Emergency Room Care?

If one experiences any of these signs after taking the drug, quickly seek medical help:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Face, lip, tongue or throat swelling
  • Hives
  • Convulsions

Warnings of Fioricet

This is a known fact that Fioricet can be habit-forming. Prolonged use of high doses may create psychological and physical dependency. The usual dosage is around 1500 mg per day. Is one having any medical tests scheduled? Sometimes, taking this medication may affect the results.
As the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, one needs a higher dosage. In addition, if one drinks alcohol with Fioricet, the amount needed for a lethal dose lessens.

Has one started to feel the “need” to increase the dosage or frequency of taking? Are headaches starting to get worse or happen more frequently? (having two headaches a week) This is despite taking the normal dosage. In these cases, the medicine may not be working as they intended it. As a result, the physician may add an extra drug to prevent headaches.

To treat an overdose of acetaminophen, doctors use N-acetylcysteine. One can take it as a mist, intravenously, and orally. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) consider it an “essential medicine”. Furthermore, it is one of the safest and most effective medicines out there. Therefore, they list it as necessary to the health system.
As with any medication, abuse and addiction are possible. Always inform the doctor of any feelings appeared when taking Fioricet.
If one has been taking it for an extended period, get help from a physician to stop taking the drug. Cessation should not be undertaken without medical and or psychological guidance. Withdrawal can be severe, and getting help is one of the best and safest decisions.

Page Sources

  1. Medline Plus. Acetaminophen, Butalbital, and Caffeine. 2019.
  2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Butalbital And Acetaminophen Combination (Oral Route). 2019.

Published on: April 3rd, 2017

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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