How long does it take for Pepto Bismol to work? (2024)

Medically reviewed by Kristianne Hannemann, PharmD. Last updated on May 22, 2024.

How long does it take for Pepto Bismol to work? (1)

Official answer


Pepto-Bismol (also known as the “pink stuff”) is a medication that is commonly used to treat diarrhea and upset stomach. It is available over the counter as an oral liquid, capsules, and chewable tablets. Pepto-Bismol usually works within 30 to 60 minutes.

What is Pepto-Bismol used for?

The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, bismuth subsalicylate, works to relieve upset stomach and is also an antidiarrheal. Pepto-Bismol can be taken for the following stomach problems:

  • Traveler’s diarrhea
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Burping
  • Fullness

How often can you take Pepto-Bismol?

Adults and children 12 years and older can take one dose of Pepto-Bismol every 30 to 60 minutes until symptoms improve. Do not take more than 8 doses in 24 hours, and do not take Pepto-Bismol for more than 2 days to treat your symptoms without consulting your doctor.

Make sure to read the instructions on the packaging, since Pepto-Bismol comes as a liquid, capsules, and chewable tablets. This means the amount you need to take for each dose varies.

Pepto-Bismol may not be the best option for everyone. It is not recommended for the following situations:

  • People with an active stomach ulcer, a bleeding problem, or who have bloody or black stools
  • Children or teens who are recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms because of the risk of a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome
  • Pregnant women

Additionally, if you have a fever or mucus in your stool, ask your doctor before using Pepto-Bismol.

Related questions

  • Can you give Pepto Bismol to kids?
  • Why does Pepto-Bismol turn your tongue black?
  • Does Pepto-Bismol help with diarrhea?

Can you take Pepto-Bismol for stomach pain?

Yes. Pepto-Bismol can be used for an upset stomach that is due to eating too much food or drink. However, if your stomach symptoms are not going away after taking Pepto-Bismol or are severe, you should get medical attention.


Pepto-Bismol [package insert]. Revised 10/2023. The Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company -

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Updated June 2022). Pregnant Travelers. Available from: When and How to Take Pepto Bismol. Accessed May 22, 2024 at

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Medical Disclaimer

How long does it take for Pepto Bismol to work? (2024)


How long does it take for Pepto Bismol to work? ›

Pepto-Bismol should work within 30 to 60 minutes. You can have another dose after 30 to 60 minutes, if you need to. You can take up to 8 doses in 24 hours. Are there other indigestion medicines?

Does Pepto-Bismol give instant relief? ›

It takes 30 minutes to an hour for Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) to start working and help relieve diarrhea, upset stomach, and nausea. Sometimes referred to as "the pink stuff," Pepto-Bismol is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that is safe and effective for short-term use.

Are you supposed to drink water after taking Pepto-Bismol? ›

If you're taking Pepto-Bismol for diarrhoea, make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

What symptoms does Pepto-Bismol cure? ›

This medicine is used for heartburn and acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhoea and feeling sick (nausea). It works by protecting your stomach and the lower part of your food pipe from stomach acid. It is also a mild antacid, which helps reduce too much stomach acid and eases any discomfort.

How long does it take Pepto to clear your system? ›

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.

How long after taking Pepto-Bismol will I feel better? ›

When will I feel better? Pepto-Bismol should work within 30 to 60 minutes. You can have another dose after 30 to 60 minutes, if you need to. You can take up to 8 doses in 24 hours.

Does Pepto settle your stomach? ›

Pepto-Bismol is an OTC upset stomach medicine that can also treat diarrhea. The active ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate. It works by slowing down movement in your stomach and intestines. It also lessens chemicals that can irritate your stomach.

When should you not use Pepto? ›

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

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.

Should I take Pepto or let it run its course? ›


Since diarrhea is your body's way of getting rid of toxins, it is best to let it run its course. However, you may use over-the-counter antidiarrheal remedies for convenience, including: Attapulgite (Kaopectate) Loperamide (Imodium)

Why does my poop come out in small soft pieces? ›

Mushy stool with fluffy pieces that have a pudding-shaped consistency is an early stage of diarrhea. This form of stool has passed through the colon quickly due to stress or a dramatic change in diet or activity level. When mushy stool occurs, it's hard to control the urge or timing of the bowel movement.

Can you still have diarrhea after taking Pepto? ›

So, if you experience any side effects at all, you should stop using Pepto-Bismol. If you experience diarrhea after starting the medication, it's best to stay well hydrated. The darkening of the tongue or stool is harmless and will resolve on its own within a few days of stopping Pepto-Bismol.

What medications should not be taken with Pepto-Bismol? ›

To make sure Pepto-Bismol is safe for you, tell your doctor or a pharmacist if you are taking:
  • an anticoagulant – medicines that help to prevent blood clots.
  • tablets or other oral medicines for diabetes.
  • medicine for gout.
  • doxycycline or minocycline, or any other tetracycline antibiotics.

When should you not take Pepto-Bismol? ›

Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pepto-Bismol is not suitable for some people. To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have: ever had an allergic reaction to bismuth subsalicylate or any of the other ingredients in Pepto-Bismol or Pepti Calm.

Is Pepto-Bismol pills or liquid better? ›

All these forms of Pepto Bismol are equally effective and use the same active ingredient, bismuth subsalicylate.

Will Pepto-Bismol stop diarrhea? ›

Pepto-Bismol is an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine that can be used to treat diarrhea and traveler's diarrhea in adults and children 12 years and older. For diarrhea, it's available as an oral liquid, liquicap, or caplet. It typically takes 30 to 60 minutes to start working, but you may need several doses.

Does Pepto-Bismol help with food poisoning? ›

Pepto-Bismol® and Imodium® can help greatly with food poisoning and with the symptoms that come with it. Pepto-Bismol is great for helping with vomiting and nausea, while Imodium is an antidiarrheal that will help slow down the digestive process to help with diarrhea.

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