How Bad Is It Really to Take Pepto-Bismol Every Day? | (2024)

How Bad Is It Really to Take Pepto-Bismol Every Day? | (1)

Like any medicine, Pepto-Bismol has possible side effects, and they're more likely the longer you take it.

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Pepto-Bismol can be just the thing to make a short-lived stomach bug or upset stomach more manageable.


But if you're relying on the pink liquid to keep gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in check more often than not, is that a problem?

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Here, learn if it's bad to take Pepto-Bismol every day, how much is ‌too much‌ and when to see your doctor for GI issues that won't go away.

First, What's in Pepto-Bismol?

Pepto-Bismol contains the active ingredients bismuth and subsalicylate. Together, they work to clear GI infections faster and soothe a sour stomach, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Bismuth:‌ This chemical element works as an antiseptic to help fight off diarrhea caused by stomach bugs.

"Most acute cases of diarrhea are caused by a short-lived bacterial or viral infection in the GI tract," says Aditya Sreenivasan, MD, a gastroenterologist at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Your body usually does a good job of clearing these infections within 24 to 72 hours, but bismuth can help shorten the length of symptoms," he adds.


Bismuth also directly curbs diarrhea by reducing the amount of liquid secreted by the small intestine and increasing water absorption in the colon, making stools firmer, per the NIH.

Subsalicylate:‌ This anti-inflammatory works a lot like aspirin. "It helps improve cramps and abdominal pain," Dr. Sreenivasan says.

Long-Term Effects of Taking Pepto-Bismol Every Day

In general, regularly taking Pepto-Bismol to settle your stomach isn't harmful. As long as you follow proper dosing instructions on the label, it's overall considered safe, per the National Library of Medicine (NLM).


That said, a daily dose of Pepto may not be the best idea for a couple reasons.


1. It Could Mask a Larger Problem

If you find yourself needing to take the pink liquid for more than a few days, "it's likely you have an underlying issue that needs the attention of a doctor and some more definitive treatment," Dr. Sreenivasan says.


You could be dealing with stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease or gallbladder or bile duct issues, he says. The only way to know for sure, though, is by seeing your doctor.

2. Large Doses Can Be Dangerous

Additionally, there are some side effects of Pepto-Bismol ‌itself‌ to consider. In some people, even a single dose of Pepto can potentially cause mild nausea, a bitter taste in your mouth, a black tongue and black stool, per the National Health Service (NHS).


"These aren't dangerous," Dr. Sreenivasan notes, but can definitely be alarming if you're not expecting them. (You can avoid the black tongue by brushing your teeth and tongue well after each dose, especially if you take a dose before going to sleep, he adds.)

In rare cases, excessive doses (i.e., taking more than the label says) of bismuth salicylate can cause toxicity, with symptoms including the following, per the NLM:


  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Impaired cognition
  • Seizures


If you experience any of the above symptoms after taking too much Pepto-Bismol, call your doctor and visit the nearest emergency room for medical attention.

Who Should Not Take Pepto-Bismol?

Children under 12 should not take Pepto-Bismol. "It can cause Reye's syndrome — a life-threatening emergency that can cause symptoms such as seizures," Dr. Sreenivasan says.

Other warning signs of Reye's syndrome include the following, per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):


  • Persistent vomiting
  • Personality changes like irritability or combativeness
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Convulsions

You should also avoid taking Pepto-Bismol if any of the below apply to you, per the NLM:

  • You have a GI ulceration (cut) or bleeding disorder
  • You have a GI condition that already causes black or bloody stools
  • You're taking certain medications like anticoagulants (blood thinners), sulfinpyrazone (for gout), probenecid or methotrexate (for arthritis)

So, How Often Should You Actually Take Pepto-Bismol?

Healthy adults who have stomach discomfort or diarrhea can take 524 milligrams of Pepto-Bismol every 30 minutes to 1 hour as needed, or 1,050 milligrams every hour for up to two days, according to the NLM.

Don't exceed 4,200 milligrams over the course of two days. Instead, contact your doctor if you're still experiencing symptoms.

Alternatives to Pepto-Bismol

Fortunately, Pepto-Bismol isn't the only remedy for an upset stomach.

For mild indigestion, bloating, cramping, nausea or diarrhea, you've got other options, including:

1. Give Your Stomach a Break

Stick with light, bland foods that won't irritate your stomach, like crackers, bananas, toast, clear broth, white rice or plain potatoes. You can also try to avoid dairy, spicy foods or anything that's fatty or fried, per the American Academy of Family Physicians.

2. Apply Some Gentle Heat

Sometimes, a hot water bottle or heating pad placed over your stomach can be enough to ease abdominal cramping caused by gas, diarrhea and GI upset, per the Cleveland Clinic.

3. Try an Herbal Remedy

Ginger and peppermint tea can quell a queasy stomach, per the Cleveland Clinic. And herbs like licorice (which can be found in tea blends) could even help reduce gas.

So, How Bad Is It Really to Take Pepto-Bismol Every Day?

Taking Pepto-Bismol for a few days in a row or even a week likely won't hurt you. (You ‌may‌ experience mild side effects like black tongue or stool, though.)

But if you need it ‌every day‌ for lengths of time, there's a good chance you have an underlying stomach issue that needs to be addressed.

Talk to your doctor if you're unsure about your Pepto-Bismol use, and whether you can take it if you have a GI condition.

"Because GI symptoms are usually short-lived, if a person's symptoms are lasting longer than a week, it's likely there's some issue going on that needs to be diagnosed and treated," Dr. Sreenivasan says.


Visit your doctor or the nearest emergency room if you experience other GI symptoms (regardless of whether you take Pepto-Bismol or not) including abdominal pain accompanied by fever, nausea or vomiting; blood in your stool, urine or vomit; abdominal swelling or tenderness; pain throughout your body or shortness of breath.



How Bad Is It Really to Take Pepto-Bismol Every Day? | (2024)


Is taking Pepto-Bismol every day bad for you? ›

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.

Is it safe to take Pepto-Bismol every other day? ›

To avoid toxic effects from bismuth subsalicylate, pay close attention to the dosing instructions on product labels. The maximum dosage is 8 doses per day of regular strength Pepto Bismol (4200 mg daily) for no more than 2 days.

What are the long term side effects of bismuth subsalicylate? ›

Salicylism has been reported in patients who chronically ingest bismuth subsalicylate. Common complaints include vertigo, diminished hearing, lethargy, CNS dysfunction, confusion, tinnitus, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

What is the daily limit of Pepto-Bismol? ›

Adults and teenagers—The usual dose is 2 tablets every half-hour to one hour. You should not take more than 16 tablets in twenty-four hours. Children—Should not be used in children younger than 12 years of age.

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.

What can I take instead of Pepto-Bismol? ›

What is the best upset stomach medicine?
Main uses
Pepto-BismolDiarrhea, nausea, and heartburn
MylantaHeartburn and gas
TumsHeartburn and indigestion
RolaidsHeartburn and indigestion
1 more row
Apr 24, 2024

Can you take Pepto-Bismol as a preventative? ›

Taking 2 tablets of Pepto-Bismol 4 times a day before you travel and while you are traveling can help prevent diarrhea. Do not take Pepto-Bismol for more than 3 weeks.

Is Pepto-Bismol or Tums better? ›

Pepto-Bismol has an average rating of 7.6 out of 10 from a total of 30 ratings on 71% of reviewers reported a positive effect, while 18% reported a negative effect. Tums Regular Strength has an average rating of 7.0 out of 10 from a total of 4 ratings on

How long does it take for Pepto-Bismol to leave your body? ›

As it slowly makes its way out of your body you may see black poo. This side effect usually goes away when you stop taking the medicine but it may take several days. If your tongue or your poo is still black after you've stopped taking Pepto-Bismol for several days, speak to your doctor or a pharmacist.

What happens if you take Pepto-Bismol for too long? ›

Less commonly, Pepto-Bismol can also cause tiredness, mood changes, or a blackening of your tongue or teeth. People have also experienced a ringing in the ear (tinnitus) from this medication. These less common side effects typically happen when you take large amounts of Pepto-Bismol or take it for a long time.

Can bismuth cause kidney failure? ›

Chronic exposure to high levels of bismuth salts result in encephalopathy, whereas acute toxicity manifests as nephrotoxicity. In a few case reports, acute renal failure (ARF) was described after an overdose of CBS (5,6,7).

Does bismuth affect the brain? ›

Conclusions. Although rare, bismuth encephalopathy should be considered in patients presenting with subacute encephalopathy and myoclonus. This encephalopathy can be subacute even after a chronic exposure. Cessation of bismuth can lead to a complete resolution in weeks.

When not to take Pepto-Bismol? ›

Who may not be able to take Pepto-Bismol
  • ever had an allergic reaction to bismuth subsalicylate or any of the other ingredients in Pepto-Bismol or Pepti Calm.
  • ever had an allergic reaction to aspirin or any other medicine.
  • diabetes.
  • gout.

What's the difference between imodium and Pepto-Bismol? ›

Loperamide (Imodium) – Slows the movement of the intestines so your body has more time to absorb water and electrolytes from the stool. Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol; Maalox) – Reacts with your stomach acid to improve stool consistency, reduce stool frequency, and relieve abdominal cramping.

Why is Pepto-Bismol out of stock everywhere? ›

Unfortunately, we're still experiencing a challenge in getting Pepto Bismol to shelves in the UK, due to shortages. We know many people rely on our product and apologize for any inconvenience. We'll continue to do our best to bring Pepto back, hopefully by Summer/Autumn of 2024.

Will Pepto-Bismol prolong a stomach virus? ›

However, in some cases, Pepto-Bismol may prolong a stomach virus. This is because diarrhea is the body's way of getting rid of the virus, and treating diarrhea may slow this process down. Most of the time, a stomach virus will resolve on its own with at-home care.

How much is too much Pepto-Bismol? ›

For diarrhea or upset stomach: Adults and teenagers—The usual dose is 2 tablespoonfuls every half-hour to one hour if needed. You should not take more than 16 tablespoonfuls of the regular-strength suspension or 8 tablespoonfuls of the concentrate in twenty-four hours.

What can you take daily for diarrhea? ›

How do you get rid of chronic diarrhea?
  • Opiate antidiarrheals. ...
  • Bile acid binders for bile acid diarrhea.
  • Clonidine for diabetes-related diarrhea.
  • Eluxadoline for IBS-related diarrhea.
  • Antibiotics or antiparasitics for infections.
  • Fiber supplements, such as psyllium, to add bulk to your poop and slow down its transit.
Oct 19, 2022

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