Fioricet is a prescription medicine that’s used to relieve tension headaches primarily because it relaxes the muscle contractions that cause head pain, ranging in severity from mild to moderate in most cases.
Fioricet is a brand name consisting of a combination of butalbital (a barbiturate), acetaminophen and caffeine which is indicated for the treatment of tension headaches, muscle contraction headaches and post-dural puncture headaches. Although not indicated, they are commonly used to treat migraines and other pain related ailments.
A tension headache is different from a migraine because as was touched on above, it’s believed that migraines stem from neurological issues, whereas a tension headache is often the result of triggers like stress, bad posture, or tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Tension headaches don’t necessarily affect your vision, strength or balance, but a true migraine can affect all of these things. Migraines can also cause nausea and vomiting.
Additionally, tension headaches don’t have a genetic component, whereas migraines often run in families.
All of these distinctions are important to recognize when considering what Fioricet is used for, and why it’s not necessarily the best treatment option for migraines.
Fioricet contains three primary ingredients which are butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine.
Butalbital is a barbiturate, and it can relieve muscular tension by acting as somewhat of a muscle relaxant, and it can also relieve pain because it acts on the central nervous system.
Along with releasing muscle contractions, butalbital can also create a sense of relaxation and relieve symptoms of anxiety. The acetaminophen acts as a pain reliever, and the caffeine can open up the flow of blood through blood vessels, which is thought to help with some headache pain.
So, with all that being said, people wonder if Fioricet is used for headaches, can it also be used for migraines?
Butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine combination is used to relieve symptoms of tension (or muscle contraction) headaches.
Butalbital belongs to the group of medicines called barbiturates. Barbiturates act in the central nervous system (CNS) to produce their effects.
Acetaminophen is used to relieve pain and reduce fever in patients. It does not become habit-forming when taken for a long time. But acetaminophen may cause other unwanted effects when taken in large doses, including liver damage.
When butalbital is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence. However, people who have continuing pain should not let the fear of dependence keep them from using narcotics to relieve their pain.
Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if treatment is stopped suddenly. However, severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented by gradually reducing the dose over a period of time before treatment is stopped completely.
Caffeine is a CNS stimulant that is used with pain relievers to increase their effect. It has also been used for migraine headaches. However, caffeine can also cause physical dependence when it is used for a long time. This may lead to withdrawal (rebound) headaches when you stop taking it.
This medicine is available only with your doctor’s prescription.
Fioricet Drug Interactions
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur.
In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Chloral Hydrate
- Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
- Iobenguane I 131
- Peginterferon Alfa-2b
- Pneumococcal 13-Valent Vaccine, Diphtheria Conjugate
- Sodium Oxybate
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.