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Generic Name: Bismuth Subsalicylate Tablets (BIZ-muth sub-sa-LIS-a-late)
Brand Name: Examples include Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol

Pepto-Bismol is used for:

Treating heartburn, upset stomach, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, or symptoms associated with eating or drinking too much. It may be used to decrease the number of bowel movements and make the stool firmer. It may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Pepto-Bismol is a salicylate. The way that it works is not fully understood. It is thought to limit secretions in the digestive tract, reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines, and inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and viruses that can cause intestinal tract diseases.

Do NOT use Pepto-Bismol if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Pepto-Bismol
  • you have had a severe allergic reaction (eg, severe rash, hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness) to aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (eg, ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib)
  • you have bleeding problems (eg, hemophilia), active bleeding ulcer, black or bloody stools, or Von Willebrand disease
  • you are taking another salicylate medicine (eg, aspirin)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Pepto-Bismol :

Some medical conditions may interact with Pepto-Bismol . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have diabetes, gout, arthritis, fever, mucus in the stool, inflammation of the stomach, Kawasaki syndrome, kidney problems, chickenpox, the flu, or joint problems (in children), or if you are dehydrated
  • if you have a history of stroke or a certain type of bulging blood vessel (aneurysm) in the brain

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Pepto-Bismol . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Insulin, methotrexate, or valproic acid because actions and side effects may be increased by Pepto-Bismol
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (eg, lisinopril) or sulfinpyrazone because their effectiveness may be decreased by Pepto-Bismol
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because the risk of bleeding may be increased by Pepto-Bismol
  • Salicylates (eg, aspirin) because the risk of side effects or toxic effects may be increased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Pepto-Bismol may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Pepto-Bismol :

Use Pepto-Bismol as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Pepto-Bismol may be taken with or without food.
  • Do not take tetracyclines (eg, doxycycline) within 2 hours before or after taking Pepto-Bismol .
  • Use Pepto-Bismol exactly as directed on the package, unless instructed differently by your doctor.
  • Drinking extra fluids while you are taking Pepto-Bismol is recommended. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • If you miss a dose of Pepto-Bismol and you are taking it regularly, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Pepto-Bismol .

Important safety information:

  • If the packaging blister is torn or open, do not use that particular tablet.
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose or take Pepto-Bismol for longer than 48 hours without checking with your doctor. If your symptoms do not improve within 48 hours or if they become worse or you develop a fever, check with your doctor.
  • Pepto-Bismol may color the tongue or stool gray or black. This is a temporary and harmless effect.
  • Do not give Pepto-Bismol to a child or teenager who has chickenpox, the flu, or another viral infection. Use of Pepto-Bismol for treating the symptoms of a viral infection may cause a serious illness called Reye syndrome.
  • Use Pepto-Bismol with extreme caution in CHILDREN because they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Pepto-Bismol during pregnancy. Pepto-Bismol is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Pepto-Bismol .

Possible side effects of Pepto-Bismol :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Temporary and harmless darkening of the tongue or stool.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); fever; hearing loss; nausea; ringing in the ears; severe constipation; vomiting.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include coma; confusion; dehydration; dizziness; new or worsening nausea; ringing in the ears; seizures; unusual bruising or bleeding; vomiting.

Proper storage of Pepto-Bismol :

Store Pepto-Bismol at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Keep Pepto-Bismol out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Pepto-Bismol , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Pepto-Bismol is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Pepto-Bismol . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: November 1, 2006
Database Edition
Copyright © 2006 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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