Bismuth Subsalicylate, also known and sold under the trade names of Bismatrol, Diotame, Kaopectate, Kapectolin, Kola-Pectin, and Pepto Bismol, is a product which is used to treat diarrhea and also to prevent travelers’ diarrhea.
It is considered to work by stopping the growth process of the bacteria which is considered to cause diarrhea.
It is also used to treat an upset stomach, nausea, and heartburn. It is available in the following forms – a tablet, a chewable tablet, and a suspension.
2 What to Know Before Using
Before the decision to start the treatment with this medication is made, it is essential to get informed about the expected beneficial effects and about the potential side effects and risks.
For the decision to be made, it is essential for the beneficial effects to outweigh the potential risks. This is a decision that you and your doctor, together, will have to make.
During the consultations, it is important to inform the doctor about:
Allergies – Inform the doctor about any allergic reactions to any medications, prescribed or no prescribed. Also, inform the doctor about any allergic reactions to any specific type of food, dye, fabric and etc.
Pediatric – Proper studies done have shown that this medication is not recommended to be used in children younger than 4 years of age. When used in older children and teenagers, along with the treatment with this medication, the patient should be also given large amounts of fluids, to replace the amount of fluids lost because of diarrhea.
Children may be more sensitive to the effects of salicylates. Bismuth may cause severe constipation within children.
Geriatric – Proper studies done have shown that in the treatment, along with the medication, it is very important to replace the loss of fluid, that happens along with diarrhea, by taking a lot of fluids. Geriatric patients are more sensitive to the effects of salicylates. Bismuth may cause severe constipation in the elderly.
Pregnancy – Inform the doctor if you are currently pregnant or have any plans about pregnancy in the near future. Proper studies done have shown that this medication is not recommended to be used during pregnancy, because of the harmful effects to the fetus that could occur.
Breastfeeding – Inform the doctor if you are currently breastfeeding. There are no studies done that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used in nursing mothers. This medication should be used only in cases where the beneficial effects outweigh the potential risks.
Drug interactions – Inform the doctor if you are currently using any other medications, prescribed or no prescribed, even vitamins and herbal tea. This is important because certain medications are not recommended to be used in a combination with others, due to the possibility that certain interactions could occur.
However, sometimes the doctor may decide to use a certain type of a combination, including two or more medications, to treat your condition, if he or she considers that combination to prove as beneficial regarding your condition.
Other interactions – Certain medications are not recommended to be used in a combination with a specific type of food, tobacco and alcohol. Because of this, it is very important to get informed if there is a need for you to follow a specific type of diet and discontinue your use of tobacco and/or alcohol.
Other medical problems – Inform the doctor about your medical history, any other medical problems and conditions from the past or at the moment. Especially, inform the doctor if there are any of the following conditions present – dysentery, gout, hemophilia or other bleeding problems, kidney disease, or stomach ulcer.
For proper use, follow the directions given by your doctor. If you are using the tablet form of this medication, swallow the tablet whole. Do not chew, crush, or break the tablet.
If you are using the chewable tablet form of this medication, slowly chew the tablet.
If you are using the liquid form of this medication, it is very important to measure the right dose using a proper measurement instrument, usually provided with the medication.
The dose is individual for every patient, prescribed by the doctor and based on your age, weight, condition, and the prognosis of the treatment.
In order to get the most beneficial effects from its use, remember to take the doses regularly. If it happens to forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember.
But, if the time for the next dose is near, wait and take the next one. Do not double to catch up.
This medication is harmful in case of an overdose. If an overdose is suspected, contact the doctor right away.
4 Precautions to Take
Visit your doctor regularly, at your scheduled appointments, so that he or she would be able to track your condition and make any adjustments if necessary.
These adjustments may refer to the dose – e.g. the doctor may decide to increase or decrease the dose, or to the treatment itself – the doctor may decide to discontinue the treatment with this medication, if there are serious side effects present that would worsen your condition, or if your condition does not improve.
Inform the doctor about any allergic reaction to any kind of medications, prescribed or no prescribed. This is important because this medication may contain inactive substances that could cause certain interactions to occur.
Inform the doctor if you are currently pregnant or have any plans about pregnancy in the near future. This medication is not recommended to be used during pregnancy, due to the studies that confirm the harmful effects to the fetus that occur from the usage of this medication.
The doctor will probably advise you to start using a proven form of birth control to prevent pregnancy during the treatment. Inform the doctor if you are currently breastfeeding.
The doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication, due to the lack of studies that would confirm the safety of this medication to be used in nursing mothers.
This medication contains an aspirin-like product (salicylate). Because of this, it is not recommended to be used within children and teenagers if they have chickenpox, flu, any undiagnosed illness, or if they have recently received a vaccine.
5 Potential Side Effects
Along with its needed beneficial effects, there are potential side effects that could occur. These side effects do not occur within all patients, also they could be mild or more serious.
However, it is essential to get informed about the potential side effects, so that you would be able to notice their presence and inform the doctor as soon as possible for further directions.
Common side effects – darkening of the stool and /or tongue. These are common side effects and are not considered as serious side effects. However, if they persist or worsen, inform the doctor right away.
Serious side effects – persistent vomiting, black/tarry/bloody stools, persistent abdominal/stomach pain, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss. These are serious side effects whose presence must be reported to the doctor right away.
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