If you have suffered from stomach upset, nausea or diarrhoea before, the chances are that you may have taken Pepto Bismol one time or the other. It works by effectively preventing or neutralizing the growth or effect of bacteria. It acts as a protective inhibitor of the stomach from stomach acid, creating a relaxing sensation from stomach discomfort and upset. Can Pepto Bismol also be used to cure diarrhoea and stomach upset in children aged one year?
As useful as Pepto Bismol is, it should never be given to children below two years of old. It is highly suitable for older children, adolescents, and adults. Though effective for acute diarrhoea, Pepto Bismol increases the risk of Reye syndrome and the build-up of chemicals like magnesium and aluminium in the infants.
What is Pepto Bismol?
Pepto Bismol is primarily made of Bismuth Subsalicylate. The drug, as we mentioned above, effectively combats stomach upset, diarrhoea, nausea and heartburn. It is pharmaceutically categorised as an antidiarrheal agent and antacid. It inhibits bowel movement and acts against intestinal inflammation, neutralising diarrhoea-causing bacteria.
In the stomach, Bismuth Subsalicylate, the active ingredient of Pepto Bismol, changes to bismuth salts and salicylic acid (aspirin).
The drug has a lot of unpleasant side effects. The most popular is Reye’s Syndrome. People who have used Pepto Bismol have complained of black poop and black colouration of the tongue, though this is harmless and for a short while.
Why children under two years should never be given Pepto Bismol
The reason you should not give Pepto Bismol to children under two years is that various medical studies have traced the use of drugs that contain salicylate (including Pepto Bismol) to the development of Reye’s syndrome.
So for the above reason, it is advisable not to give any child who has a bout of flu or gastrointestinal infection drugs like Pepto Bismol. Also, nursing mothers should restrain from using Salicylate-active products like Pepto Bismol. Some amounts of the drugs can be secreted into breast milk, increasing the likelihood of Reye’s Syndrome to babies.
What is Reye’s Syndrome?
Reye’s syndrome is a rare condition causing significant damage to the brain and liver. It is a rapidly deteriorating illness, causing seizures, confusion and coma. Though medical research is still ongoing and there are still speculations as to the cause of Reye syndrome. Majority of the cases of Reye’s syndrome onset in children is linked with the use of salicylate or aspirin. Thankfully, Reye’s syndrome is rare.
One of the ways of preventing Reye’s syndrome is to desist from giving children aspirin or salicylate-containing drugs. This has made different governmental drug administrative bodies to withdraw the use of aspirin for children, leading to a reduction of the prevalence of Reye’s syndrome.
Reye’s syndrome is named after an Australian medical specialist named Douglas Reye. Reye gave the very first elaborate analysis of the condition in 1963.
Should I give my child ‘children’s’ Pepto’?
If your child is over two years of age, then children’s Pepto (Pepto Kids Chewables) is appropriate for use. The Children’s Pepto was created by Procter & Gamble (the manufacturers of Pepto Bismol). It is a child-friendly medical preparation that contains calcium carbonate instead of bismuth subsalicylate. It comes in different chewable favour.
What you can give your child instead of Pepto Bismol
If your child suffers from digestive problems like diarrhoea. Nausea, acid reflux or stomach ache, here are helpful alternatives to Pepto Bismol:
- For stomach upset, you should concentrate on a change in diet to ease the irritation of the gut. You can give your child low-fibre food like gelatin, crackers and applesauce. Avoid giving him any sugary or candied juice or beverage. Also, your child must stay away from spicy or peppery foods.
- If your child is vomiting, then he must remain hydrated. Make sure your child increases his fluid intake by giving him water to drink regularly. Desist from feeding him with juice or beverages.
- In the case of diarrhoea, your child should eat food like rice, applesauce and banana. These foods can help create bulky and more solid poop, and they are easily digestible. Avoid using dairy products as fluid replacements.