How Does Pepto-Bismol Treat Heartburn?


Cause of Heartburn

Heartburn refers to a burning irritation felt just below the breastbone when stomach acid rises up and into the base of the esophagus, which transports food from the mouth to the stomach. While the stomach lining has a design to withstand the harsh effects of stomach acid, the esophagus does not. Acid coming into contact with the lining of the esophagus burns the sensitive lining, the result is known as heartburn or acid reflux. This esophageal pain in the chest can feel like the heart is on fire, hence the name heartburn.

Stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus because the sphincter ("gateway") does not properly seal the base of the esophagus. Anything which causes the sphincter to relax causes heartburn and a desire for relief.

Pepto Bismol Active Ingredient and Uses

Pepto-Bismol's active ingredient, bismuth subsalicylate, treats several ailments of the digestive tract: diarrhea, nausea, heartburn and stomach discomfort from overindulgence. Bismuth subsalicylate belongs to three drug categories: antiulcer agents, antidiarrheal, and antacids.

Pepto Bismol and Heartburn

The precise reason Pepto-Bismol relieves heartburn remains unknown, but one theory holds that the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, bismuth subsalicylate, coats the linings of the stomach and esophagus to reduce irritation from acid. Some people have stomach discomfort they self-diagnose as heartburn only to have a doctor tell them that a peptic ulcer is the cause. Peptic ulcers result from an infection with the bacteria known as H. pylori. Bismuth subsalicylate kills this bacteria in addition to soothing the stomach.

Pepto-Bismol could also reduce the amount of secretions of digestive juices (acid) and decrease inflammation in the stomach.

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