Fioricet And Codeine: Risks And Side Effects

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Presently, doctors prescribe Fioricet with Codeine to relieve tension headaches. It also contains acetaminophen, and they consider it a narcotic combination
It has the additives of caffeine to restrict blood vessels in the brain, and butalbital to help relax. Also, users take it for the relief of migraine headaches.
It is not recommended to give children Fioricet with Codeine, as the safety of this combination for children wasn’t determined. A pediatrician can offer safe alternatives to this drug combination.

The patient may have other medical conditions and are taking other drugs. Sometimes, it may interfere with the treatment involving Fioricet with Codeine. As a result, one should discuss it with a health provider.
For those who start taking it to relieve the pain, at times the body builds up a tolerance. Therefore, they find themselves taking more to feel better. This leads to addiction. There is the fear of having the pain along with the dread of withdrawal. This can keep them on the drug long after they should have quit.

Precautions Before Taking Fioricet with Codeine

fioricet with codeine
One should tell a physician all medications that are being taken. Both Fioricet and Codeine are over the counter medicines, that include cough syrup, Tylenol, aspirin, cold medication, allergy medicines. They also contain dietary supplements such as vitamins, weight loss aids, dietary, etc.
Always check the labels on all over the counter drugs to see if they contain acetaminophen. If they do, consult with a pharmacist before purchasing the product. There may be possible overdosing of acetaminophen, and that can be fatal.
Be sure to tell prescribing physician if one has suffered a head injury recently. On the other hand, one might get suddenly sleepy for no clear reason.

Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should not take Fioricet with Codeine. This is because it can cause addiction to an unborn child. Furthermore, the drug can also be passed pass to newborn through breast milk harming the baby.
Some foods will also interfere with how effective Fioricet with Codeine is. They include grapefruits and grapefruit juice.
It is very important to remember that Codeine is an opioid. Therefore, that, in and of itself, carries its own set of warnings and precautions. Doctors consider it one of the more powerful drugs for intense pain. The side effects of Codeine can be addictive. Usually, it can lead to a bowel obstruction that can require medical attention.
Pre-existing breathing problems have intensified when using Codeine. Therefore, people with asthma or frequent hyperventilation should avoid taking Codeine. It also includes any other medications containing Codeine.
Codeine quickly breaks down in the liver and can reach high levels in the body, possibly leading to death.

Dos and Don’ts of Taking Fioricet with Codeine

When taking Fioricet with Codeine, there are several things one should/should not do:

  • One can take it with or without food. However, since it can cause stomach upset, it may be preferable to take with food.
  • Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day helps ward off constipation caused by the Codeine.
  • Check with pharmacist about a stool softener or taking a laxative.
  • Don’t take more than six capsules for 24 hours.
  • Do not use alcohol, at least not in excessive amount, when taking the two drugs.
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners) may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Is one taking medication to help with withdrawal from alcohol or other opioids? Then, one should tell the doctor about it, because they may decrease the desired effects of Fioricet with Codeine.
  • If one misses a dose, contact a physician. One should not take two doses at once.
  • Start taking Fioricet with Codeine at the first sign of the pain. Taking medicine when the pain has become intense may decrease the relief.
  • Watch for skin reactions as this is a sign of an allergy. They call these skin reactions to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. They can cause serious health problems and if not treated. Also, they will not heal and can result in death.
  • Red or irritated eyes, sores in the mouth and throat are also signs of allergies. Therefore, one should report it.
  • If one is taking birth control pills, one should tell a gynecologist. This is if one is considering taking Fioricet with Codeine. Birth control may lower the effectiveness of the pill.

Side Effects Of Fioricet With Codeine

Common side effects of Fioricet with Codeine can be severe. They include:

  • breathing problems
  • chest pains
  • confusion
  • urine reduction
  • palpitations
  • persistent sore throat
  • agitation and anxiety

One should discuss any reaction that causes concern with a doctor. It doesn’t matter whether it appears serious or not.
The effects of Fioricet combined with those of Codeine can lead to Serotonin Syndrome. They may have severe complications, which include seizures and can escalate to death.
To detect an overdose, watch for the following more severe responses:

  • Nails turn bluish
  • Skin feels cold and clammy
  • Confusion
  • Muscles feel limp
  • Pupils looking like pinpoints
  • Restlessness
  • Jaundice
  • Urine appearing to be darker than usual
  • The “shakes”

Of course, this is not a complete list. However, showing any of these symptoms are dangerous. Therefore, one should take the person to an Emergency Room quickly.
Remember, there are medicinal benefits to taking Fioricet with Codeine. However, there are many negative reactions that can occur even when taken as directed.
Stay in close contact with a doctor. A pharmacist can also be a great source of information. In addition, learn to recognize when one may be having a problem or “craving” Fioricet with Codeine. This is as opposed to “needing” it for the pain.

Page Sources

  1. BUTALBITAL, ACETAMINOPHEN AND CAFFEINE- butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine tablet. Drug Label Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Published on: April 10th, 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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