Pepto Bismol is commonly used for the treatment of nausea, heartburn, and indigestion, but does it make you poop?
According to VeryWellHealth, Pepto Bismol works by increasing fluid absorption in the intestines, firming up stools, and eliminating harmful bacteria in the gut, which helps to alleviate diarrhea. That said, Pepto Bismol can result in constipation and other side effects when taken incorrectly.
Keep reading to learn how you can use Pepto Bismol correctly to treat diarrhea, as well as how you can avoid other adverse side effects.
Who Should Not Take Pepto Bismol?
When taken correctly, Pepto Bismol can be highly effective for the treatment of indigestion, diarrhea, heartburn, reducing inflammation, and preventing stomach spasms. That said, you do need to make sure that you’re taking it correctly, or you may face some side effects.
Pepto Bismol should only be taken by individuals 12 years or older, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it completely. People with chronic conditions diarrhea and IBS should also avoid this medication, as it can only be taken for a maximum of 2 days without side effects.
That said, one of the most common side effects of taking Pepto Bismol is black stools—which brings me to my next point!
Why Does Pepto Bismol Make Your Poop Black and How Long Will This Last?
Many people have been left feeling a little freaked out after finding their mouth and stools black after taking Pepto Bismol. So, is this normal and how long will this last?
According to Healthline, Pepto Bismol contains an active ingredient called bismuth subsalicylate which is responsible for your poop turning black. This interacts with the sulfur in your GI tract or saliva and creates bismuth sulfide which is black in color, and this can show up in your stools and mouth.
How Long Will Stools Be Black After Taking Pepto Bismol?
The good news is that this isn’t anything to be worried about—while this may be a little alarming (and embarrassing), the black color is only temporary and is not harmful to your health in any way. That said, your mouth and stools should return back to their normal color within a couple of days.
Additional Side Effects of Pepto Bismol
Besides making your poop (and mouth) black, Pepto Bismol may present additional causes for concern that you should be aware of. While these symptoms are highly unlikely, it’s always good to know what to look out for just in case:
- prolonged diarrhea (longer than 2 days)
- ringing in the ears or loss of hearing
- nausea and vomiting
Constipation is one of the more common symptoms experienced, and this is because it is designed to treat diarrhea by firming up the stools. That said, if you’re thinking of taking a substitute such as Immodium you may want to think again! Pepto Bismol is actually 8 times less likely to cause constipation than Immodium, according to one study.
That said, the best way to ensure that you don’t experience any adverse side effects is by taking Pepto Bismol correctly and as instructed, which is exactly what I’m going to cover next!
How To Take Pepto Bismol Safely
When it comes to any medication it is absolutely crucial that you follow the label instructions carefully. Pepto Bismol comes in a variety of forms—either tablet or liquid. Depending on which one you have, you need to make sure that you administer them correctly.
According to EveryDayHealth, you should chew the Pepto Bismol tablets before swallowing and shake the liquid properly before dosing with the syringe provided. You also shouldn’t exceed 8 doses per day and call a doctor if diarrhea persists for longer than 2 days. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water to prevent constipation and dehydration.
If you’re wondering what the recommended dose is for the liquid, you can find them below:
- For diarrhea treatment, you’ll need one 30 ml dose every half hour or two doses every hour.
- For nausea, heartburn, upset stomach, and indigestion you can take 30 ml every half hour.
In terms of the tablets, you can follow the below instructions:
- Two tablets every half hour or four tablets per hour for diarrhea treatment.
- For nausea, heartburn, upset stomach, and indigestion you can take two tablets every half hour
What Medications Should Not Be Taken With Pepto Bismol?
If you are on any chronic medications it’s really important that you double-check the drug interactions before taking any new medications. That said, below I am going to list some possible drug interactions that you should be aware of before taking Pepto Bismol:
- blood thinners such as Warfarin
- anti-seizure medications
- medications for the treatment of gout
- tetracycline antibiotics, including tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, and demeclocycline
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- medications for the treatment of diabetes such as insulin and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors
If you are taking any of the above medications it is highly recommended that you consult your doctor before taking Pepto Bismol. As long as you speak to your doctor beforehand and take the medication as directed you shouldn’t have any issues. That said, if you experience any of the below, you may have unknowingly taken too much:
- ringing ears
- breathing changes
If you experience any of the above symptoms, make sure that you seek medical attention immediately.
Is it Safe For Children To Take Pepto Bismol?
Children 12 years and older can take Pepto Bismol as long as they follow specific dosage instructions. However, the FDA has advised that children under the age of 12 should avoid taking it due to the ingredient bismuth subsalicylate which may cause a life-threatening condition called Rye Syndrome.
Because of these concerns, it is recommended that children younger than 12 years take Pepto Kids which is specifically formulated for younger children. If you’ve already given your child the regular Pepto Bismol, watch out for these dangerous signs that your child may indicate trouble:
- extreme fatigue
- seizures or coma
If you notice any of the above symptoms you need to take your child to a doctor straight away.
It is important to remember that Pepto Bismol is an antacid designed specifically for short-term use of mild to moderate diarrhea and indigestion. If you take the correct dosage specified on the label you shouldn’t expect anything more than black stools and mouth, but nothing serious. If you have severe and prolonged digestive upset, it may be a better idea to put down the Pepto Bismol and see your nearest doctor.
Which is the quickest way to settle my stomach?
Besides using over-the-counter medications to settle your stomach woes, the best thing you can do is drink plenty of fluids, specifically those that contain electrolytes. Some good options include sports drinks, decaffeinated teas, and diluted apple juice. If you are able to keep fluids down, you should try and bananas, plain white rice, white toast with honey or jelly, applesauce, or crackers.