Pepto Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate)

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Pepto Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate)


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  • Overview
  • FAQ
  • Side Effects
  • Information leaflet
  • Reviews

What is Pepto Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate)

Pepto-Bismol is used to treat an upset stomach, heartburn, indigestion and nausea. Signs include belching and the feeling of fullness. The active ingredient is known as bismuth subsalicylate. It belongs to the drug class known as salicylates.

What is the difference between Pepto Bismol, Alka-Seltzer and Maalox?

The main difference between the Pepto-Bismol, Alka-Seltzer and Maalox is the active ingredient they contain. Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth salicylate, Alka-Seltzer contains aspirin and Maalox contains Aluminium hydroxide and Magnesium hydroxide. They are all used as treatment options for upset stomach. 


How long do I take Pepto Bismol for before I notice a difference?

Pepto-Bismol should not be taken for longer than 48 hours without consulting a health professional.

What are the side effects of Pepto Bismol?

Like all other medicines, Pepto-Bismol does have side effects that are as the following:

Common side effects of Pepto-Bismol are:

  • Black, hairy tongue

  • Black stool

Pepto-Bismol contains the substance bismuth. When this substance gets mixed with sulfur, then another substance is formed which is called bismuth sulfide. This substance is black in color. When it forms in the digestive tract, it gets mixed with the food as one digests it. So, this makes the stool black. 

  • Ringing in the ears is an uncommon and serious side effect of the Pepto-Bismol. If you feel this then stop taking the Pepto-Bismol and consult your physician.

These side effects are quite harmless. All of the above effects are temporary and can be reduced within a few days after the intake of Pepto-Bismol has stopped.

How effective is Pepto Bismol?

Pepto-Bismol has been scientifically tested and proven to be highly effective in treating diarrhoea and other stomach conditions. It is a licensed drug rather than a supplement and it is helping people to manage upset stomach conditions if used as directed. 

Can I buy Pepto Bismol online?

Pepto Bismol does not require a prescription although you are very welcome to book an appointment with a health expert at Click Pharmacy to discuss how best to use this product. It can be purchased in 120ml or 240ml bottles and can be sent directly to you by Next Day Delivery.

What dose should I chose?

Adults can take Pepto-Bismol for up to two days. If your condition lasts longer than two days or if you have ringing in your ears, then discontinue the Pepto-Bismol and consult your physician or doctor.

How should I take Pepto Bismol?

If you are going to take the Pepto-Bismol, then the following instructions must be followed:

The original liquid Pepto Bismol includes 30 milliliter (ml) cup, that is one dose, thus delivering 525 milligrams of bismuth subsalicylate. The usual recommendations for taking Pepto-Bismol are:

  • One 30 ml dose every 30 minutes as required for the stomach upset, indigestion, nausea and heartburn.

  • One 30 ml dose every 30 minutes or two doses every hour for diarrhea or the traveler’s diarrhea.

It is also warned not to take more than 8 doses in time of 24 hours.

How does Pepto Bismol work?

Pepto-Bismol is thought to treat diarrhea by:

  • Increasing the amount of fluid your intestines absorb

  • Reducing inflammation and over-activity of your intestines

  • Preventing your body’s release of a chemical called prostaglandin that causes inflammation

  • Blocking toxins produced by bacteria such as E. coli

  • Killing other bacteria that cause diarrhea 

The active ingredient, bismuth subsalicylate, also has antacid properties that can help to decrease heartburn, nausea and upset stomach.

When shouldn’t I take Pepto Bismol?

Pepto-Bismol is usually safe for most people, but one should avoid it if he or she have some health conditions. Pepto-Bismol can make those health conditions worse. It must not be taken if you:

  • have a bleeding or an active ulcer

  • are allergic to the salicylates that includes NSAIDs or aspirin like naproxen, celecoxib and ibuprofen

  • are a teenager that is recovering from flu or chickenpox

  • have a kidney problem

Bismuth salicylates can also cause many problems for people with other medical conditions. Before taking this product, consult your physician or doctor.

What is Pepto Bismol used for?

Pepto Bismol is a medicine used for the treatment of heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion and diarrhoea.

What is the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol?

The active ingredient in Pepto Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate. This ingredient is effective at protecting your stomach from stomach acid.

Can children use Pepto Bismol?

Pepto Bismol is suitable for adults and children over the age of 16 years old.

Can everyone use Pepto Bismol?

Although Pepto Bismol is generally a safe medicine. It is not suitable for everyone to use. You should not use Pepto Bismol if you have any of the following:

  • An allergy to aspirin
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Allergy to amaranth

How long can I use Pepto Bismol for?

You must not use Pepto Bismol for any longer than 2 consecutive days.

What dosage of Pepto Bismol should I take?

The recommended dose of Pepto Bismol is 30ml. You can take this dose every 30 to 60 minutes however you must not exceed any more than 8 doses in 24 hours.

Does using Pepto Bismol cause dehydration?

There is a chance that using Pepto Bismol may cause dehydration, it is vital that you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding women use Pepto Bismol?

You should not use Pepto Bismol if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.

Can I take other medication while using Pepto Bismol?

Pepto Bismol contains salicylates which have the possibility to interfere with other medicines. You should not combine Pepto Bismol with any of the following medicines:

  • Blood thinners
  • Medicines for the treatment of diabetes
  • Medicine for the treatment of gout
  • Doxycycline or minocycline

Can I take other painkillers with Pepto Bismol?

It is safe to take paracetamol at the same time as Pepto Bismol. However you must not combine Pepto Bismol with any other painkiller such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Can I combine other medicines for the treatment of indigestion with Pepto Bismol?

It is important that you consult with a GP or pharmacist before combining different drugs with Pepto Bismol. This is because a combination of drugs has the possibility to interfere with one another and cause harmful side effects.

Does using Pepto Bismol affect my fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest that using Pepto Bismol affects one’s fertility.

Does using Pepto Bismol affect my contraception?

Although using Pepto Bismol does not directly impact contraception, however if you experience diarrhoea the contraceptive pill may be ineffective.

Can I drink alcohol while using Pepto Bismol?

Although alcohol does not interfere with Pepto Bismol itself, it may result in your stomach producing more acid.

After using Pepto Bismol you may experience a number of different side effects. More common side effects include your poop and tongue turning black. This happens due to the active ingredient coming into contact with small amounts of saliva in the digestive system. This side effect should disappear once you stop using this medication. If after 3 days of consecutive use your side effects do not improve, you should seek medical advice from a GP or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Always read the patient information leaflet before starting your treatment. The patient information leaflet can be found here

Authored by Jana Abelovska

Last reviewed 20 April 2021

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