See you in 7 years…or sooner?

We’ve all been there…that terrifying moment when you’re aimlessly walking around and suddenly you feel a punch in your throat and then what feels like a never ending boulder rolling down to you stomach. That’s right, swallowing gum. One of the worst feelings that I bet has caught almost everyone on this blog by surprise.

Kid’s blog about swallowing gum

 

 

I know you’ve heard the myth that you won’t see that piece of gum for another 7 years, but is that really true? NO!

According to Michael F. Picco, M.D., certified in gastroenterology and a consultant for Mayo Clinic in Florida, swallowed gum does not make a home in a person’s stomach if swallowed. It cannot be digested along with food that has been swallowed, however, it can be moved throughout the large and small intestines and in most cases, will exit the body in a short period of time.

For the kids who love their gum, it’s important to make sure that they know the reasons why its called CHEWING gum, not SWALLOW gum. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recalls a case of a young boy with severe constipation, found to be caused from an extreme amount swallowed chewing gum). It was not one piece of gum that did this, but the behavior of the child and his habit of constantly swallowing the gum he was given. This can be the rare case  if you do not chew gum properly (or at all).

If there were to be an experiment on this topic, researchers would either have to force children to swallow large amounts of gum, creating constipation, have children not swallow gum, and also have kids chew gum at their own rate. There would be a null hypothesis of nothing happening when the children swallowed different amounts of gum, as the gum would just come out of their body in stool a few days later. However, on the other hand their could be an alternative hypothesis where the gum could create a great build up in the intestines and harm the body. 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) says that since a chewing gum type substance has been around since the time of the cavemen, there would be more information on the topic if it was really though to be doing  a ton of harm. But since the only foreseeable outcome is bad constipation for a short period of time if a child swallows a lot of gum, then there is not much research left to do.

So, we know gum doesn’t stay in your system for 7 years. But what happens to it while it is inside you

While the food is being digested and all the good parts of food (and gum int his case) are being absorbed into the body, the rubber part of the gum is left sitting in your stomach, immune to the acids inside you. So when it does come time for the gum to pass through, it is nothing more than rubbery remnants  of the gum that once was.

So the bottom line, don’t swallow chewing gum. It;s meant to be chewed and spit out. Although it won’t reside in your intestines for 7 years, why risk the potential uncomfort of constipation and the everlasting pain that swalowing gum comes with. If you need ot put your gum down for a while, you can always stick it behind your ear. 😉

demonstration of how to porperly chew gum

3 thoughts on “See you in 7 years…or sooner?

  1. Zachary Cope

    Great post Danielle, I’ve always heard that gum is very hard to digest and takes a long time to go through the intestines, but this is the first time I’ve heard of 7 years! That’s crazy, and me being a guy who loves to chew gum almost every minute i’m awake and not eating, i’m glad to hear it’s not true. I was so glad to hear about your explanation about how the acids in our stomach do nothing to break down the piece of gum because I have a funny story regarding this. A couple of years ago I was hopelessly sick with the stomach flu, throwing up over and over throughout the day. I chewed on a piece of gum to freshen up my breath at one point during the day and ended up swallowing it on accident.. a couple hours later, the next time I threw up, I leaned over the garbage can and looked at my nasty throw up, could you guess what I saw? Yes… there was the piece of gum lying in the mess of vomit looking untouched as if it just came right out of my mouth (even though it had been in my stomach for hours). So I can relate to that fact in a rather humorous way. Anyways, the last time I was at the dentist, he mentioned that chewing gum is actually very beneficial to your teeth and can prevent tooth decay. This was a little peculiar to me because gum is full of sugar which isn’t very good for your teeth, but here’s an article explaining how gum is beneficial:
    http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/chewing-gum

  2. Margaret Marchok

    Danielle- I really enjoyed your post. As someone who avidly chews gum, I am always extra careful not to swallow it. However, I never heard of the myth that it stays in your stomach for 7 years. That is a very interesting myth and I’m glad it isn’t true. It was also very interesting to learn about what gum can do to you when it is inside your body. It was shocking to hear about the child who suffered severe constipation all because he swallowed a piece of gum. That story got me interested in some other harmful side effects of swallowing gum, so I went on and did some research. This article includes some other possible harmful side effects of swallowing your gum- http://www.webmd.com/children/features/swallowing-gum. Enjoy!

  3. Rachel Sara Anton

    Danielle,
    I love the direction you took with this post. Every time I swallow a piece of gum, I automatically cringe at the thought of it being in me for 7 years. Good thing you made this post so I don’t have to worry that much anymore! I think it’s awesome that you created a hypothetical experiment considering the ethics issues involved in having a real experiment to test this hypothesis. I also took notice of your post because of how great your pictures are! This website discusses what would happen if you swallowed a lot of gum. The result is something called a bezoar. You should check it out!

Leave a Reply