Bismuth subsalicylate

Pronunciation

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

Bismuth subsalicylate 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.

Bismuth subsalicylate 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 bismuth subsalicylate if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in bismuth subsalicylate
  • 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.

Slideshow: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects

Before using bismuth subsalicylate:

Some medical conditions may interact with bismuth subsalicylate. 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 bismuth subsalicylate. 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 bismuth subsalicylate
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (eg, lisinopril) or sulfinpyrazone because their effectiveness may be decreased by bismuth subsalicylate
  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because the risk of bleeding may be increased by bismuth subsalicylate
  • 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 bismuth subsalicylate 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 bismuth subsalicylate:

Use bismuth subsalicylate as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Bismuth subsalicylate may be taken with or without food.
  • Do not take tetracyclines (eg, doxycycline) within 2 hours before or after taking bismuth subsalicylate.
  • Use bismuth subsalicylate exactly as directed on the package, unless instructed differently by your doctor.
  • Drinking extra fluids while you are taking bismuth subsalicylate is recommended. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • If you miss a dose of bismuth subsalicylate 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 bismuth subsalicylate.

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 bismuth subsalicylate 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.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate may color the tongue or stool gray or black. This is a temporary and harmless effect.
  • Do not give bismuth subsalicylate to a child or teenager who has chickenpox, the flu, or another viral infection. Use of bismuth subsalicylate for treating the symptoms of a viral infection may cause a serious illness called Reye syndrome.
  • Use bismuth subsalicylate 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 bismuth subsalicylate during pregnancy. Bismuth subsalicylate is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking bismuth subsalicylate.

Possible side effects of bismuth subsalicylate:

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 about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

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 bismuth subsalicylate:

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

General information:

  • If you have any questions about bismuth subsalicylate, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate 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.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take bismuth subsalicylate or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about bismuth subsalicylate. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to bismuth subsalicylate. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using bismuth subsalicylate.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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