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Bismuth Subsalicylate

Related Brands*

Kaopectate, Maalox, Pepto-Bismol

Bismuth subsalicylate is an antacid and antidiarrheal active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that treats heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal ailments.

Bismuth subsalicylate is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to label directions.

Children and teenagers who have or are recovering from chicken pox or flu-like symptoms should not use an OTC medicine containing bismuth subsalicylate. If changes in behavior with nausea or vomiting occur, a doctor should be contacted immediately. These symptoms could be an early sign of Reye’s syndrome, which is a rare, but serious illness.

*Bismuth subsalicylate may not be contained in all products sold under these brands. Please read the OTC Drug Facts label carefully for active ingredient information for specific products.

Tips for Medicines with Bismuth Subsalicylate

When using bismuth subsalicylate-containing medicines, it is important to know that:

  • A temporary but harmless darkening of the stool or tongue may occur.
  • You should drink plenty of clear fluids to help prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea.
  • You may use the product as directed until diarrhea stops, but not for more than two days.
  • You should never take more medicine or for a longer period of time than what the label says.

Do not use if:

  • You are allergic to salicylates, including aspirin.
  • You are taking other medicines that contain salicylates.
  • You have an ulcer, bleeding problem, or bloody or black stool.

Ask a healthcare professional before use if:

  • You are taking a blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant) or a prescription medicine to treat diabetes, gout, or arthritis.
  • You have a fever or mucus in the stool.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You experience ringing in the ears or loss of hearing.
  • Your diarrhea lasts for more than two days.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222

If you have questions about any of the medicines you are taking or if you have any unexpected side effects, talk to a healthcare professional. And of course, keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.


Tips for Parents

  • Talk to a healthcare professional before giving an OTC medicine containing bismuth subsalicylate to a child under the age of 12.

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