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Is it safe to take expired Pepto Bismol?

Pepto Bismol is antidiarrheal medicine also used for heartburn due to acid reflux in the stomach, indigestion, and nausea. It is also popular for treating stomach discomfort.

The shelf life of Pepto Bismol is extended enough. But, what if you found outdated Pepto Bismol in your medicine closet? Is it dangerous to use expired Pepto Bismol tablets?

Table of Content

How does Pepto Bismol work?

Pepto Bismol protects our stomach in the following ways:

  • The main ingredient of Pepto Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate. It wraps stomach ulcers and protects them from stomach acids.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate kills Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that is the main cause of stomach and small intestine infections and can cause ulcers. However, doctors prescribe Pepto Bismol with other antibiotics for better results.
  • It is an antacid and protects our stomach cells during acid reflux.
expired pepto bismol

Pepto Bismol also treats diarrhea by:

  • Increasing the amount of fluid absorbed by GIT mucosa.
  • Coating the GIT tissues to slow down the passage of liquids from GIT mucosa to stools.
  • Reducing the inflammation of the stomach and intestine by preventing the release of prostaglandins, a chemical that causes inflammation.
  • Reducing the over-activity of the stomach and intestines.

Side effects of Pepto Bismol

Side effects of Pepto Bismol usage are temporary and go away over time. However, expired Pepto Bismol side effects can be a bit longer-lasting. Pepto Bismol side effects are as follows:

  • Black tongue and stools. Our saliva and GIT contain small amounts of sulfur and when bismuth subsalicylate comes in contact with this sulfur, it converts bismuth subsalicylate to bismuth sulfate. Bismuth sulfate is black so turns the tongue and stools black.
  • Constipation. Bismuth subsalicylate reduces the flow of water in stools so it may result in the hardening of stools. Expired Pepto Bismol can sometimes worsen this side effect.
  • Salicylism. It is a condition that results from ingesting salicylates for a very long time. Symptoms include vertigo, reduced hearing, abdominal pain, vomiting, and lethargy.

Who should not take Pepto Bismol?

Before taking any medicine, one should read the labels written on the packages. It is advised that some people with specific conditions should not take Pepto Bismol and these people include:

  • People who are allergic to salicylates or aspirin because the main ingredient of Pepto Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate.
  • Children and teenagers who have flu symptoms or suffering from chickenpox.
  • People who are already taking some drugs like anticoagulants, anti-seizure drugs, diabetes and gout medicines, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or tetracycline antibiotics.
  • Mothers who are breastfeeding.

Does Pepto Bismol go bad after expiration?

The active ingredient of Pepto Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate which is not a reactive ingredient. Bismuth subsalicylate is:

  • Stable in air
  • Does not react with moisture

But it is:

  • Sensitive to light
  • Sensitive to temperature
  • Decompose in boiling water
  • Unstable in alkaline solutions

So is taking expired Pepto Bismol bad? The expiry date of medicine ensures it is 100 percent effective. After the date passed the effectiveness started to decline.

It is recommended not to take any medicine that has passed its expiration date.

How to store Pepto so can be used after expiration

There are a few factors that you need to keep in mind while storing Pepto Bismol or almost any medicine. If you can maintain these factors then worrying about how long does Pepto Bismol last before it expires will be on the bay forever.

Low temperature

Pepto Bismol should be stored in a refrigerator or at a low-temperature place. As time passes, the effectiveness of medicine reduces.

So, does Pepto Bismol go bad in heat? Yes, high temperature quickens this process. But if stored at low temperature, it will still be good for use.

The ingredients of Pepto Bismol are non-reactive and usually do not decay at high temperatures, only their effectiveness decreases.

Hygienic environment

When medicines are placed in an unhygienic place, bacteria and other germs begin to grow on their surface. Now the consumption of those medicines can cause infections and other health issues.

Always check the packing of medicine before taking it. If the seal of the medicine package is broken, then discard it as bacterial outgrowth has already started on its surface.

Dry place

Medicines should be stored in dry places. This is because moisture triggers the rapid outgrowth of bacterias and germs.

Pepto Bismol usually comes in the form of tablets as well as liquid. If it is stored in an intact package in a cold and dry place, you can expect the highest effectiveness.

expired pepto bismol

Tightly closed liquid containers

Pepto Bismol comes in both tablet and liquid forms. Most people ask what happens if you drink expired Pepto Bismol. It is not the expiry date that can cause much trouble but the contamination.

The liquid containers are more susceptible to germs than Pepto Bismol medicines. This is because after taking one dose, we forgot to close the bottles tightly.

If Pepto Bismol containers are not tightly closed, then it becomes the most favorable place for bacterias. And taking such medicines can cause trouble for you. Also while buying liquid medicines, you should check their seal.

is it ok to take expired Pepto Bismol?

Always try to avoid expired medicines and never take risks of taking expired Pepto tablets and drinking expired Pepto Bismol.

Because of the non-reactive nature of the key ingredients, expired Pepto Bismol may sound safe but it is not recommended to take any expired drugs. Some people may face serious side effects from those drugs.

Moreover, you won’t get 100% effectiveness from any medicine.

Final Words

It is advised not to take expired Pepto Bismol because it is risky for your health. Although some medicines remain intact even after expiry but always try to take fresh, non-expired ones.

Some medicines can cause noxious effects on health if taken after the expiry date. Pepto Bismol is not very reactive even after the expiration date but is only sensitive to light. So generally, it doesn’t cause any harm to your body.


How long is Pepto Bismol good for?

Pepto Bismol’s shelf life is longer. However, try to avoid taking expired Pepto because it may be contaminated.

Make sure you store Pepto Bismol in a cool, dry, and clean place. It is not the expiry date of Pepto Bismol that can cause risk but its contamination. Always close the liquid Pepto Bismol containers tightly because there are more chances of contamination if the bottle is left open or partially closed.

Is it ok to take expired anti-diarrhea medicine?

Different medicines behave differently after expiration. Some medicines lose their effectiveness rapidly after expiration but some medicines maintain their effectiveness even after many years.

For example, Imodium is not recommended after expiry because it loses its effectiveness sometimes after its expiry but the anti-diarrheal medicines like Tums and Pepto Bismol still retain some of the effectiveness.

In this way, the behavior of medicines after expiry matters. Tums and Pepto Bismol are not severely harmful after the expiration date but Imodium is not recommended long after expiry.

Can you take a year old Pepto Bismol?

Yes, you can take Pepto Bismol expired 1 year ago if it is intact and not expired. It is harmless. But if it is expired, its effectiveness is less.  However, it will not cause any harm to your body. You might need to take more doses of expired Pepto Bismol than non-expired medicine because of its less effectiveness.

Is it ok to take expired antacids?

Most ingredients of antacids are naturally stable. But they lose their potential with time after the expiry date. They can be used after expiry but they might not cure the issue as effectively as before.

Medical authorities state that most of the antacids are safe to use after expiry. But their potential may reduce with time. So you may need to take more expired antacids than non-expired ones.

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