Kaopectate - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Kaopectate: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Kaopectate?

Kaopectate is a common medication for diarrhoea. It contains an active ingredient called bismuth subsalicylate. Kaopectate belongs to the class of drugs called antidiarrheals and is used to treat nausea, gas, heartburn, indigestion or an upset stomach. It is especially useful in treating travellers’ diarrhoea. Kaopectate works by slowing the growth of bacteria in the gut that cause an upset stomach. You should avoid this medication if you observe blood or mucus in your stools.

What are the uses of Kaopectate?

This medicine is especially useful in treating sudden-onset diarrhoea, including travellers’ diarrhoea. Kaopectate works by retarding the movement of stool in the gut and decreasing the growth of harmful bacteria, which reduces the frequency of bowel movements and makes the stool less watery. 

The other uses of the drug include the management of recurrent diarrhoea in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, gas, heartburn, bloating, belching, fullness and nausea.

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What are the side effects of Kaopectate?

Common side effects of Kaopectate are the darkening of stools and the tongue, which disappear after the cessation of the medication. 

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience persistent vomiting and diarrhoea, as this can cause serious dehydration with symptoms such as decreased urination, dry mouth, fast heartbeat, dizziness, unusual thirst and lightheadedness. You should also contact your doctor if you experience symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears, black and tarry stools, persistent abdominal pain and blackish vomit.


Frequently Asked Questions about Kaopectate

1. Can I drink water after taking Kaopectate?

Yes, you should drink plenty of water to decrease the risk of dehydration after taking this medication. You are advised to drink plenty of other liquids too. Do not take more than four dosages of Kaopectate in one day because that can lead to severe side effects.

2. When should you not take Kaopectate?

This medicine is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Allergy to aspirin, salicylates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen
  • Bleeding disorders such as haemophilia
  • Bloody/black stools
  • Gout
  • Fever
  • Blood in stools 
  • Mucus in stools

Remember, Kaopectate only treats the symptoms of diarrhoea and not the underlying reason, i.e., the infection that causes diarrhoea.

3. Do you take Kaopectate before or after eating?

You can take this medicine with food or on an empty stomach. It is usually taken after a loose stool. However, you should take chewable tablets on an empty stomach only. 

You should not take more than 16 milligrams of Kaopectate in a day and drink plenty of water along with it. (https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-525/kaopectate-1-d-loperamide-oral/details)

4. Can you take Kaopectate long-term?

No, this medication should never be taken long-term. Similar to other antidiarrheal drugs, Kaopectate should not be used for more than two days unless directed by your physician. Consult your healthcare professional if your diarrhoea does not get better after two days or if you have a fever due to an infection.

5. Does Kaopectate have aluminium?

Kaolin and pectin used to be the active ingredients of Kaopectin. Kaolin is hydrated aluminium silicate and works as an adsorbent. Currently, manufacturers use bismuth subsalicylate as the active ingredient in this antidiarrheal medicine. Since the early 1990s, kaolin and pectin are no longer used as the active ingredients of Kaopectin because of efficacy issues.

6. Does Kaopectate have clay?

For almost half a century, Kaopectate used to contain kaolin, a type of clay. Kaolin contains high amounts of lead that can impair brain development, reduce fertility and harm foetuses and young children. Therefore, the older formula was discontinued in the 1990s, and the active ingredients were changed.

7. Is Kaopectate safe for kidneys?

Kaopectate contains salicylic acid that can potentially harm the kidneys. If you have chronic kidney disease, check with your doctor before taking this over-the-counter (OTC) drug. The chances of its side effects are high because the body cannot effectively eliminate bismuth subsalicylate present in Kaopectate.

8. Does Kaopectate stop vomiting?

Yes, Kaopectate can stop some types of vomiting and nausea that occur because of gastroenteritis. Doctors also prescribe Kaopectate to treat an upset stomach and abdominal pain. Primarily, this medication is used as an antidiarrheal drug for treating diarrhoea. It may also be used to treat heartburn.

9. Can you give a child Kaopectate?

Children over the age of 12 can take Kaopectate as prescribed by the doctor. Children with fever, chickenpox or flu should not be given this medication. If children with fever, chickenpox or flu take this medication, Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness, can occur in them. It is contraindicated for adults experiencing bleeding, blood in stools or salicylate allergy.

10. Is Kaopectate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved?

Kaopectate is an OTC drug. All OTC drugs have to comply with FDA quality, effectiveness, and safety standards; post this, they may be marketed without FDA review.

A marketing pre-clearance of OTC drugs by the FDA is not mandatory if they meet the regulations and policies. Precautions include discontinuing its usage if you experience ringing in your ears, hearing loss or if the diarrhoea lasts more than two days. 


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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.