Butabarbital is used on a short-term basis to treat insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep). It is also used to relieve anxiety, including anxiety before surgery. Butabarbital is in a class of medications called barbiturates. It works by slowing activity in the brain.
Butabarbital comes as a tablet and solution (liquid) to take by mouth. When butabarbital is used to treat insomnia, it is usually taken at bedtime as needed for sleep. When butabarbital is used to relieve anxiety before surgery, it is usually taken 60 to 90 minutes before surgery. When butabarbital is used to relieve anxiety, it is usually taken three to four times a day. If you are taking butabarbital on a regular schedule, take it at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take butabarbital exactly as directed.
Your sleep problems should improve within 7 to 10 days after you start taking butabarbital. Call your doctor if your sleep problems do not improve during this time, if they get worse at any time during your treatment, or if you notice any changes in your thoughts or behavior.
Butabarbital should normally be taken for short periods of time. If you take butabarbital for 2 weeks or longer, butabarbital may not help you sleep as well or control your anxiety as it did when you first began to take the medication. If you take butabarbital for a long time, you also may develop dependence ('addiction,' a need to continue taking the medication) on butabarbital. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking butabarbital for 2 weeks or longer. Do not take a larger dose of butabarbital, take it more often, or take it for a longer time than prescribed by your doctor.
Do not stop taking butabarbital without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop taking butabarbital, you may develop anxiety, muscle twitching, uncontrollable shaking of your hands or fingers, weakness, dizziness, changes in vision, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or you may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or extreme confusion.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking this medication if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take butabarbital because it is not as safe or effective as other medication(s) that can be used to treat the same condition.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
If you are taking butabarbital on a regular basis, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
slow, shallow breathing
swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
difficulty breathing or swallowing
Butabarbital may cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
uncontrollable eye movements
difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
fast, slowed or shallow breathing
narrowed pupils (black circles in the middle of the eye)
low body temperature
coma (loss of consciousness for a periol of time)
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your response to butabarbital.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Butabarbital is a controlled substance. Prescriptions may be refilled only a limited number of times; ask your pharmacist if you have any questions.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 06/01/2010
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.