Bismuth Subsalicylate : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More

Why is this medication prescribed?

Bismuth subsalicylate is used to treat diarrhea, heartburn, and upset stomach in adults and children over 12 years of age. Bismuth subsalicylate is in a class of medications called antidiarrheal agents. It works by decreasing the flow of fluids and electrolytes into the intestine, reduces inflammation within the intestine, and can kill organisms that can cause diarrhea.

How should this medicine be used?

Bismuth subsalicylate comes as a liquid, tablet, or chewable tablet to take by mouth, with or without food. Follow the package directions carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take bismuth subsalicylate exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than recommended by the manufacturer or your doctor.

Swallow the tablets whole; do not chew them.

Shake the liquid well before each use to mix the medicine evenly.

If your symptoms get worse or if your diarrhea lasts more than 48 hours, stop taking this medicine and call your doctor.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking bismuth subsalicylate,

  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to salicylate pain relievers such as aspirin, magnesium choline trisalicylate, choline salicylate (Arthropan), diflunisal (Dolobid), magnesium salicylate (Doan’s, others), and salsalate (Argesic, Disalcid , Salgesic); or any other medication.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about taking bismuth subsalicylate if you take: anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin); a daily aspirin; or medication for diabetes, arthritis, or gout.
  • If you are taking tetracycline antibiotics such as demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Doryx, Vibramycin), minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin), and tetracycline (Sumycin), take them at least 1 hour before or 3 hours after taking bismuth subsalicylate.
  • Ask your doctor before taking this medicine if you have ever had an ulcer, a bleeding problem, bloody or blackened stools, or kidney disease. Also ask your doctor before taking bismuth subsalicylate if you have a fever or mucus in your stool. If you are giving bismuth subsalicylate to a child or adolescent, tell the child’s doctor if the child has any of the following symptoms before receiving the medicine: vomiting, listlessness, drowsiness, confusion, aggression, seizures, yellowing of the skin . or eyes, weakness, or flu-like symptoms. Also tell your child’s doctor if the child has not been drinking normally, has had excessive vomiting or diarrhea, or appears dehydrated.
  • Ask your doctor about taking this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Drink plenty of water or other beverages to replace fluids that you may have lost while having diarrhea.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

This medication is usually taken as needed. If your doctor has told you to take bismuth subsalicylate regularly, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Bismuth subsalicylate may cause side effects.

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience this symptom, stop taking this medication and call your doctor immediately:

  • ringing or buzzing in your ear(s)

Bismuth subsalicylate may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure they cannot be consumed by pets, children, and others. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. Check out the FDA drug safe disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

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In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.

What other information should I know?

Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about bismuth subsalicylate.

You may notice a darkening of the stool and / or tongue while taking bismuth subsalicylate. This darkening is harmless and usually goes away a few days after you stop taking this medicine.

It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.

Brand Names

  • Bismusal®
  • Kaopectate®
  • Peptic Relief®
  • Pepto-Bismol®
  • Pink Bismuth®
  • Stomach Relief®

Disclaimer: DrLinex has made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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