An Odd Side Effect from Pepto-Bismol

A Very Unpleasant Surprise from Pepto-Bismol

Okay, I don’t normally discuss the side effects of any medication I take with anyone but my doctor, but this time I’m going to make an exception. I also don’t usually feel the need to forewarn you all of harmless side effects of popular over-the-counter medications. Once again, this time I’m making an exception. The exception I am making is a common side effect of the popular stomach medication Pepto-Bismol.

Years without Incident

Let me start off by saying that I have been taking Pepto-Bismol for years without incident. I grew up in a family where Pepto was automatically given to you the moment you showed any signs of stomach discomfort, so it’s only natural that Pepto-Bismol is the product I turn to as an adult. It seems to work well and I’ve never had a side effect from it — until this morning.

Quite a Scare

I had an upset stomach last night so I chewed two of the Pepto-Bismol tablets and went to bed. I woke up this morning feeling like a new person. Smiled at my wife and gave a big yawn. To my surprise she screamed at the top of her lungs, “What the heck happened to your tongue!”

I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror and to my horror my tongue was completely black on top as though I had been chewing on charcoal all night. My first thought was that I was dying from some horrible disease. Then I decided to research on the Internet to see what in the world could cause a black tongue. Shockingly, I discovered it was the Pepto-Bismol.

A Common Occurrence Not Commonly Talked About

I found a number of websites that discussed in detail how Pepto-Bismol can turn a person’s tongue black. Apparently, an active ingredient in the medication reacts with sulfur to create the black substance. Something I ate last night had sulfate in it, so the reaction happened in my mouth while I was sleeping.

You’d think Pepto-Bismol would mention something on the label about a black tongue being a possible side effect instead of allowing consumers to have the daylights scared out of them.

So the next time you take Pepto-Bismol don’t panic if you suddenly find yourself with a black tongue. You’re probably not dying of some weird disease. You’re just experiencing a harmless, albeit embarrassing, side effect. Although if your black tongue problem doesn’t go away in a day or two, I’d definitely see a doctor.