Skip to Content

Can Pepto-Bismol make your poop dark green?

Quick Answer

Yes, Pepto-Bismol can sometimes make your poop turn dark green. This is a temporary side effect that is not harmful. The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, bismuth subsalicylate, reacts with digestive fluids in the gut and can turn poop black or greenish. This color change usually goes away once you stop taking Pepto-Bismol. If the green stool persists or you have other concerning symptoms, see your doctor.

What is Pepto-Bismol?

Pepto-Bismol is an over-the-counter medication used to treat several digestive issues including:

– Diarrhea
– Upset stomach
– Nausea
– Heartburn
– Indigestion

The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate. This substance has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe irritation and discomfort in the gut.

Some key facts about Pepto-Bismol:

– It comes as a pink liquid or chewable tablets.
– The recommended dosage for adults is two tablespoons (30 mL) or two tablets every 30 to 60 minutes as needed. It should not be taken for more than two days.
– It’s safe for most people but should be avoided by those with salicylate sensitivity.
– Some common side effects are constipation, dark stools, and tongue discoloration.

Why does Pepto-Bismol make poop green?

The bismuth subsalicylate in Pepto-Bismol is responsible for turning poop green or black.

Here’s what happens:

– Bismuth subsalicylate reacts with digestive enzymes and fluids in the gut, forming a dark substance called bismuth sulfide.
– This bismuth sulfide mixes with poop and turns it black or greenish-black.
– The discoloration is temporary and harmless.

So in essence, the bismuth in Pepto binds with sulfur compounds from your gut bacteria and digestive juices to form a harmless pigment.

This pigment works its way through your intestines and shows up as greenish poop when you go to the bathroom. The green color might be more apparent if you have lighter stool to begin with.

How long does green poop from Pepto-Bismol last?

The greenish poop caused by Pepto-Bismol usually goes away 1-2 bowel movements after you stop taking the medication.

Here’s a rough timeline:

– While taking Pepto – stools likely green
– 1st BM after stopping Pepto – possibly still greenish
– 2nd BM after stopping Pepto – color likely back to normal

However, the duration can vary a bit person by person. It might take slightly longer for some people to have normal colored stools again.

In most cases, green poop resolves within a day or two of discontinuing Pepto. If it persists longer than that, contact your doctor.

Is green poop from Pepto-Bismol normal?

Yes, green poop is a normal and expected side effect of taking Pepto-Bismol. As mentioned, it’s caused by a harmless pigment formed when bismuth subsalicylate reacts with gut contents.

While it might look alarming, rest assured that green poop from Pepto-Bismol is temporary and not a cause for concern. It does not indicate a problem with your liver, gallbladder, or digestion.

As long as you feel well otherwise, there’s no need to worry. You can let your doctor know at your next visit but it’s typically not an issue that requires immediate medical care.

When should I worry about green poop from Pepto-Bismol?

Green poop from Pepto-Bismol is not usually worrisome. However, see your doctor if:

– The green color persists more than 2-3 bowel movements after stopping Pepto
– It’s accompanied by severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever or other concerning symptoms
– You see blood in your stool
– You have recently traveled and worry about traveler’s diarrhea
– You have other unexplained symptoms along with green stool

While rare, green poop can sometimes indicate an underlying issue like:

– Bile duct blockage
– Chronic pancreatitis
– C. difficile infection
– Giardiasis
– Cholecystitis

It’s best to get checked by a doctor if the green color hangs around or you don’t feel well. They can determine if testing is needed to rule out other conditions.

Are there other causes of green poop?

Yes, there are some other potential reasons for green poop besides Pepto-Bismol:

– **Diet:** Eating large amounts of green foods like leafy greens, green juice, pistachios or green food coloring can tint poop green. This cause is harmless.

– **Medications:** In addition to Pepto, other meds linked to green poop include antidepressants, anti-diarrheal drugs, and antibiotics. Iron supplements can also turn poop greenish.

– **Speed of transit:** Stool moves so fast through the intestines that there’s not enough time for the bile to breakdown and color turns green. This can happen with diarrhea.

– **Infection:** Gastroenteritis and Giardia infection are causes. Traveler’s diarrhea is sometimes green.

– **Crohn’s disease:** Can cause green diarrhea due to inflammation and fast transit time.

– **C. diff infection:** Causes profuse, watery, green diarrhea, along with fever and abdominal pain.

If the green color persists more than a day or two after taking Pepto, have your doctor examine the cause. A stool test might be ordered to check for infection.

Tips for dealing with green poop from Pepto-Bismol

Here are some tips if you experience green poop after using Pepto-Bismol:

– Don’t panic! Remind yourself it’s a normal side effect of the medication.

– Stop taking Pepto. Allow a couple bowel movements for the color to go away.

– Stay hydrated to help move the bismuth pigment through your system.

– Focus on eating high fiber foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains to keep your poop soft.

– Be patient. It might take a day or so for stool color to normalize again after Pepto.

– Monitor for other symptoms like pain, diarrhea or vomiting. See a doctor if very concerned.

– Consider switching to another OTC medication like Imodium if it bothers you.

– Don’t be alarmed if stools float – this is also common with Pepto usage.

Overall, green poop from Pepto is not harmful and should resolve quickly once the medication is stopped. Call your doctor if it persists or if other symptoms develop.

When to see a doctor

Consult your physician or a gastroenterologist if:

– Your stool remains green for more than 2 days after stopping Pepto-Bismol use
– The green color is very dark or black
– You have diarrhea lasting more than 2 days
– You notice blood in your stool
– You have abdominal pain, fever, vomiting or other troublesome symptoms along with green poop
– Your stools are still green after a week
– You have recently traveled and suspect a parasite infection

Although rare, persistent green stool can indicate an issue like:

– Bile duct obstruction
– Pancreatitis
– Bacterial overgrowth
– Giardia infection
– Ulcerative colitis
– Cholecystitis

Your doctor can help diagnose the cause through methods like:

– Medical history review
– Physical exam
– Stool culture
– Blood tests
– Abdominal CT scan or ultrasound
– Colonoscopy

Proper treatment can then be prescribed if needed, which may include medication, dietary changes, or supplements.

Bottom Line

It’s quite common to have green poop after taking Pepto-Bismol. This temporary side effect is harmless and nothing to worry about. Allow 1-2 bowel movements after stopping the medication for your poop color to return to normal. See a doctor if green stool persists along with concerning symptoms. With some patience, the green color should resolve once Pepto is out of your system.

Cause Reason for Green Poop
Pepto-Bismol Bismuth subsalicylate reacts with gut fluids
Diet High green food intake
Medications Antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-diarrheals
Rapid Transit Stool moves too fast through colon
Infection Giardia, C. difficile, gastroenteritis
IBD Crohn’s disease inflammation

When to See Your Doctor

See your doctor if:

– Green stool persists >2 days after stopping Pepto-Bismol
– Very dark or black stool
– Diarrhea > 2 days
– Blood in stool
– Fever, abdominal pain, vomiting
– Still green after a week
– Recent travel with suspected parasite

Diagnosis may involve:

– Medical history and physical exam
– Stool culture
– Blood tests
– Abdominal CT scan or ultrasound
– Colonoscopy

Proper treatment can then be prescribed.

In summary, Pepto-Bismol can temporarily turn poop green or black due to its bismuth subsalicylate ingredient. While alarming, this is a harmless side effect that resolves within 1-2 bowel movements after discontinuing the medication. Make sure to see a doctor if the green color persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. With patience, the green stool should dissipate once Pepto is out of your system.