Bismuth Subsalicylate

What is bismuth subsalicylate?

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

What is bismuth subsalicylate used to treat?

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Other gastrointestinal ailments
Common brands containing bismuth subsalicylate:
  • Kaopectate
  • Maalox
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much bismuth subsalicylate can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for bismuth subsalicylate

Bismuth subsalicylate is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. You may use the product as directed until diarrhea stops, but not for more than two days.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You are taking a blood-thinning medicine (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.

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.

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 healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

What are the side effects of bismuth subsalicylate?

  • When using medicines containing bismuth subsalicylate, a temporary and harmless darkening of the stool or tongue may occur.