Common questions about Pepto-Bismol (2024)

How does Pepto-Bismol work?

It's not fully understood how Pepto-Bismol works.

The medicine forms a protective coating over the lower part of your food pipe (oesophagus), and partly coats your stomach. This helps protect them from stomach acid.

It also has weak antacid properties that may help reduce too much stomach acid. This will ease feelings of pain and discomfort.

When will I feel better?

Pepto-Bismol should work within 30 to 60 minutes.

You can have another dose after 30 to 60 minutes, if you need to.

You can take up to 8 doses in 24 hours.

Are there other indigestion medicines?

There are a number of different medicines for indigestion and heartburn.

Antacids contain ingredients like calcium carbonate (Tums), magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia), aluminium hydroxide or sodium alginate. Some contain combinations of these ingredients (for example Maalox, Rennies and Gaviscon).

Antacids relieve indigestion and heartburn by counteracting (neutralising) the reducing the damage of acid in your stomach. They work quickly and make you feel better for a few hours. They're ideal if you occasionally get stomach acid problems. You can get antacids from pharmacies and supermarkets.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. Most PPIs are available on prescription only. They include omeprazole, esomeprazole and lansoprazole. You can buy the lowest-strength omeprazole and esomeprazole from pharmacies.

H2 blockers (histamine antagonists) reduce the amount of acid made in your stomach, but they do this in a different way to PPIs. For example, your doctor might prescribe cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid) or nizatidine (Axid). You can also buy famotidine from pharmacies.

Will it affect my contraception?

Pepto-Bismol does not affect any type of contraception, including the combined pill, progestogen-only pill and emergency contraception.

But if Pepto-Bismol is not working for you and you're being sick, your contraceptive pills may not protect you from pregnancy. Check the pill packet to find out what to do.

Find out more:

  • What to do if you're sick or have diarrhoea when taking the combined pill
  • What to do if you're sick or have diarrhoea when taking the progestogen-only pill
Can I drive or ride a bike?

Taking Pepto-Bismol will not usually affect your ability to drive a car or ride a bike.

However, taking too much Pepto-Bismol can make you feel confused, tired or dizzy. It can also affect your hearing or cause ringing or buzzing in your ears. If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive or ride a bike until you feel OK again.

It's an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected. It's your responsibility to decide if it's safe to drive. If you're in any doubt, do not drive.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're unsure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking Pepto-Bismol. GOV.UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving.

Can I drink alcohol while taking Pepto-Bismol?

Alcohol does not affect the way Pepto-Bismol works. However, drinking alcohol makes your stomach produce more acid than normal. This can irritate your stomach lining and make your symptoms worse.

If you have diarrhoea, drinking alcohol may make you more dehydrated. It's best to avoid alcohol until your symptoms are better.

Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?

You can eat and drink normally while taking Pepto-Bismol. However, it's best to avoid foods that seem to make your indigestion worse, like rich, spicy and fatty foods.

Try to cut down on caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks. Reduce or try to avoid alcohol.

Can lifestyle changes help ease stomach acid?

Making a few changes to your diet and lifestyle may help if you have problems caused by too much stomach acid.

It can help if you:

  • keep to a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to – extra weight can put pressure on your stomach and make acid reflux worse
  • do not eat foods that can make your symptoms worse, including rich, spicy and fatty foods, and acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, salad dressings and fizzy drinks
  • cut down on caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks
  • cut down on alcohol
  • try not to eat for at least 3 hours before you go to bed
  • prop your head and shoulders up when you go to bed – this can stop stomach acid coming up while you sleep
  • quit smoking – you can call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044
Common questions about Pepto-Bismol (2024)

FAQs

Common questions about Pepto-Bismol? ›

Pepto-Bismol was first sold in 1900 or 1901 by a doctor in New York. It was originally sold as a remedy for infant diarrhea by Norwich Pharmacal Company under the name "Bismosal: Mixture Cholera Infantum". It was renamed Pepto-Bismol in 1919. Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Procter and Gamble in 1982.

What is a fun fact about Pepto-Bismol? ›

Pepto-Bismol was first sold in 1900 or 1901 by a doctor in New York. It was originally sold as a remedy for infant diarrhea by Norwich Pharmacal Company under the name "Bismosal: Mixture Cholera Infantum". It was renamed Pepto-Bismol in 1919. Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Procter and Gamble in 1982.

What problems can Pepto-Bismol cause? ›

Pepto-Bismol side effects are typically mild. Nausea, a bitter taste, and a blackened tongue are possible. Rarely, Pepto-Bismol can cause serious side effects, such as Reye's syndrome in children and allergic reactions in those with aspirin allergies.

When should Pepto-Bismol not be taken? ›

Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pepto-Bismol is not suitable for some people. To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have: ever had an allergic reaction to bismuth subsalicylate or any of the other ingredients in Pepto-Bismol or Pepti Calm.

What are the warnings about Pepto-Bismol? ›

warnings
  • black or bloody stools;
  • stomach ulcer;
  • bleeding problems; or.
  • if you are allergic to salicylates such as aspirin, Doan's Extra Strength, Salflex, Tricosal, and others.

How did Pepto-Bismol get its name? ›

Where does the name come from? Pepto was a marketeer's version of pepsin, a natural substance that aids digestion. Bismol is named for bismuth, the active ingredient that works, Schwartz says, by “coating the stomach.” Even though Pepto is now pepsin-less, no one could bear to change the name.

Why is Pepto-Bismol so pink? ›

Contrary to what you may be thinking, it is not bismuth subsalicylate that gives Pepto-Bismol its carnation colouring. That compound is beige. It turns out that Pepto is pink simply because Procter and Gamble dye it pink!

Why is Pepto-Bismol illegal in France? ›

Over-the-counter medicine for traveler's diarrhea is regulated, too. Pepto-Bismol is not sold in France due to a health scare in the 1970s.

Who shouldn't have Pepto-Bismol? ›

This drug contains an aspirin-like product (salicylate). Children and teenagers younger than 18 years should not take this product if they have chickenpox, flu, or any undiagnosed illness or if they have recently received a vaccine.

Is taking Pepto every day bad? ›

You can take Pepto-Bismol for up to 2 days. Do not take it for more than 2 days as this will increase your risk of getting side effects. If your symptoms are no better or are getting worse after 2 days, contact your doctor.

What to avoid when taking Pepto? ›

Examples of medications that can interact with Pepto-Bismol include:
  • angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as benazepril, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril, and trandolapril.
  • anti-seizure drugs, such as valproic acid and divalproex.
  • blood thinners (anticoagulants), such as warfarin.
Nov 30, 2020

Should you not drink water after taking Pepto-Bismol? ›

You can eat and drink normally while taking Pepto-Bismol. However, it's best to avoid foods that seem to make your indigestion worse, like rich, spicy and fatty foods. Try to cut down on caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks. Reduce or try to avoid alcohol.

How fast does Pepto work? ›

It takes 30 minutes to an hour for Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) to start working and help relieve diarrhea, upset stomach, and nausea. Sometimes referred to as "the pink stuff," Pepto-Bismol is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that is safe and effective for short-term use.

Why don't doctors recommend Pepto-Bismol? ›

Salicylate toxicity can occur after overdose. Avoid Pepto Bismol if you take aspirin regularly. It is not advisable during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Children under 12 years of age should not take salicylate products due to an increased risk for Reye's Syndrome.

What can Pepto-Bismol do to your body? ›

This medicine is used for heartburn and acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhoea and feeling sick (nausea). It works by protecting your stomach and the lower part of your food pipe from stomach acid. It is also a mild antacid, which helps reduce too much stomach acid and eases any discomfort.

Does Pepto-Bismol interact with anything? ›

Pepto-Bismol contains salicylates (also found in aspirin) and can affect some other medicines. To make sure Pepto-Bismol is safe for you, tell your doctor or a pharmacist if you are taking: an anticoagulant – medicines that help to prevent blood clots. tablets or other oral medicines for diabetes.

What are some interesting facts about bismuth subsalicylate? ›

Bismuth subsalicylate is an antacid and anti-diarrheal agent. Exhibiting antibacterial and gastroprotective properties, bismuth subsalicylate is an insoluble salt of salicylic acid linked to trivalent bismuth cation. Each molecule of bismuth subsalicylate contains 58% bismuth and 42% salicylate by weight.

Why do people like Pepto-Bismol? ›

Pepto-Bismol may help relieve diarrhea, upset stomach, and other digestive symptoms. Chances are you've heard of “the pink stuff.” Pepto-Bismol is a well-known over-the-counter medication used to treat digestive problems.

What benefits does Pepto-Bismol have? ›

This medicine is used for heartburn and acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhoea and feeling sick (nausea). It works by protecting your stomach and the lower part of your food pipe from stomach acid. It is also a mild antacid, which helps reduce too much stomach acid and eases any discomfort.

Does Pepto-Bismol go bad in heat? ›

Tip: Pepto Bismol liquids do not need to be refrigerated, but some say it tastes better when cold. Pepto Bismol is just as effective when stored at room temperature or in the fridge—so the choice is up to you!

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