Pepto-Bismol Side Effects

by on March 14, 2012


Pepto-Bismol is a popular over-the-counter product that is intended for the treatment of minor digestive system upsets. Patients who are considering using Pepto-Bismol should be aware of its most common side effects: darkening of the tongue and stool. Although these side effects can be unsettling if you do not know to watch for them, they are completely harmless and usually go away within a few days.

Common Pepto-Bismol Side Effects

  • Darkening of the tongue
  • Darkening of the stool

The most common side effects are a black tongue and dark stools. Fortunately, these odd side effects are completely harmless and will disappear within a few days of stopping Pepto-Bismol treatment. The black tongue and dark stool side effects occur when bismuth subsalicylate reacts with trace amounts of sulfur in the saliva and intestinal tract.

Brushing the teeth and tongue is usually sufficient to remove the unsightly black coating from your mouth.

Serious Pepto-Bismol Side Effects

Pepto-Bismol Side EffectsAs with any prescription or over-the-counter medication, there is the possibility that a small number of users will have an allergic reaction to the active, or inactive, ingredients. Patients who are allergic to Pepto-Bismol may experience the following symptoms, which are indicative of a serious allergic reaction:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the lips, face, mouth or tongue

Seek immediate medical attention to treat the symptoms of a Pepto-Bismol allergic reaction. Although rare, allergic reactions to Pepto-Bismol may be serious, especially for patients who are suffering from other types of serious medical conditions.

Although not indicative of an allergic reaction, there are other serious side effects require medical attention. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Hearing loss
  • Severe nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Severe constipation

Some medical conditions may exacerbate these side effects for some individuals. If you have a history of health problems such as kidney disease, diabetes, gout or a blood clotting disorder, consult your doctor before taking Pepto-Bismol to avoid potentially serious side effects.

Pepto-Bismol and Ulcers

Doctors sometimes recommend Pepto-Bismol as a treatment for ulcers caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. If your doctor recommends Pepto-Bismol as part of a comprehensive ulcer treatment plan, make sure to take the medication exactly as directed, and at the same time each day, to ensure satisfactory results. However, you should never use Pepto-Bismol without a doctor’s supervision if you have a history of stomach ulcers. Pepto-Bismol, which is a salicylate medication, may cause serious bleeding problems if used incorrectly or by patients for the self-treatment of ulcers.

Pepto-Bismol is one of the most popular over-the-counter treatments for gastrointestinal discomfort, which is due, in part, to a very low occurrence of serious Pepto-Bismol side effects. This medication is considered safe for the treatment of gastrointestinal problems in patients age 12 and over, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Pepto-Bismol’s most common side effects are more of a nuisance than a legitimate cause for concern. However, it is always important to discuss your medical history, and medications that you are currently taking, with your doctor before using any type of drug, including Pepto-Bismol.