How Do Barbiturate Combo Analgesics Work?

Reviewed on 6/23/2021

How do barbiturate combo analgesics work?

Barbiturate combo analgesics are medications prescribed for pain relief from headaches. Barbiturate combo analgesics contain a barbiturate known as butalbital which is combined with acetaminophen or aspirin. Some drug barbiturate combinations may also include caffeine. Barbiturate combo analgesics work as relaxants and pain relievers.

Butalbital works by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). Butalbital slows down the activity in many regions of the brain and has a sedative effect. Barbiturates are addictive and prolonged use can lead to physical and psychological dependence on the drug, drug tolerance and heightened pain sensitivity (drug-induced hyperalgesia).

Both aspirin and acetaminophen work on the hypothalamus region of the brain to reduce fever and relieve pain. Acetaminophen is an effective alternative for people who are allergic to aspirin. Caffeine constricts cerebral blood vessels, which can help in reducing pain from headaches. Caffeine also stimulates the brain’s respiratory drive, improving oxygen inflow.

How are barbiturate combo analgesics used?

Barbiturate combo analgesics are taken orally as tablets, capsules or solutions, to treat tension headaches. Acetaminophen dosage should not exceed 4 grams per day and should be used with caution in people with liver or kidney impairment.


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What are side effects of barbiturate combo analgesics?

Side effects of barbiturate combo analgesics may include the following:





Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of some barbiturate combo analgesic drugs?

Generic and brand name of barbiturate combo analgesic drugs include:

  • butalbital/acetaminophen
  • butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine
  • butalbital/aspirin/caffeine
  • Fioricet
  • Fiorinal


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