Butalbital FAQs: Common Questions And Answers About Butalbital

Q:What is Butalbital?

Butalbital is a barbiturate class drug that acts as a muscle relaxant and is often prescribed for the treatment of headaches and other moderate level pain that may not respond to over-the-counter preparations. Butalbital is frequently formulated with other ingredients to enhance its effectiveness as a pain relief medication.

Q:What are the different formulations of Butalbital that are available?
A:Butalbital is often prescribed under different trade names when combined with pain relief drugs such as aspirin or acetaminophen, caffeine, and/or codeine. One version of Butalbital is known as Butalbital/APAP/CAFF, and contains acetaminophen and caffeine, in addition to Butalbital. This variety is also known as generic Fioricet and contains no codeine or aspirin.
Q:Should I be concerned about becoming addicted to Butalbital?
A:When taken as directed, Butalbital can be a safe and highly effective pain relief treatment. However, addiction to pain relief medications can be a serious problem for some people. Because Butalbital is a barbiturate, it should only be used as directed, under the care of a qualified physician or pharmacist. Never take more than the prescribed dosage or use it more frequently than your doctor directs.
Q:Are there any side effects associated with taking Butalbital?
A:Like many prescription-strength pain relief medications, you may experience one or more side effects when taking Butalbital. Some of the more commonly reported side effects of Butalbital/APAP/CAFF include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Feelings of intoxication
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nervousness, anxiety or irritability

Other more serious side effects have been reported, though rarely. If you experience any of the following while taking Butalbital, seek immediate medical attention: rapid or irregular heartbeat, itchiness or rash, severe dizziness, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

Q:How can I tell if Butalbital is right for me?
A:Only by consulting with a qualified physician can you determine whether Butalbital is right for you. It is essential that your doctor carefully reviews your symptoms and medical history, lifestyle, allergies, and any other medication you may be taking before prescribing Butalbital or any other pain relief product.
Q:What activities or other drugs should I avoid while taking Butalbital?
A:To reduce the risk of intoxication and/or over sedation, you should avoid consuming alcohol while taking Butalbital. Since taking Butalbital can result in drowsiness or dizziness, you should exercise extreme caution while driving, operating machinery or heavy equipment, or engaging in other activities that require clear focus and alertness. Because Butalbital/APAP/CAFF contains caffeine, you should avoid drinking large quantities of caffeinated beverages, as this may increase the risk of irritability and/or nervousness. Since Butalbital/APAP/CAFF contains the pain relief ingredient acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can be harmful to the liver when taken in high doses, check with your doctor before taking any other drugs that contain acetaminophen.
Q:Is it OK to take Butalbital while pregnant?
A:You must consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and are taking or considering taking Butalbital. It is unknown whether Butalbital can affect a developing fetus. However, both acetaminophen and Butalbital appear in breast milk, so women who are breastfeeding should also discuss this with their physician.
Q:How do I take Butalbital for pain relief?
A:Butalbital/APAP/CAFF is available as a capsule, and should be taken orally as prescribed by your physician. Generally, you should take Butalbital with a glass of water or with milk or food to avoid getting an upset stomach.
Q:What if I miss taking a dose of Butalbital?
A:If you miss taking a dose of Butalbital, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, it is better to skip the missed dose entirely. You should never take a double dose of Butalbital/APAP/CAFF at once.
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