Is swallowing Your Gum Actually Bad for You?

One time when I was younger and my mom told me to spit my gum out when we got into the doctors office we couldn’t find a trash can. I quickly exclaimed to my mom that i’d just swallow it. She then immediately screamed that I should never do that. “Swallowing your gum is bad for you, it’ll stay in your stomach forever”. I never thought to question my mom and from then on was scared of swallowing my gum. Some of my friends would swallow their gum around me and I would tell them its bad for them but they would tell me its not bad for you and they did it all the time. I’d never thought to do research on the subject and actually figure out the truth about swallowing gum. Does gum really stay in your stomach forever after you swallow it? If so, can this harm you? Or does it really not effect you at all?


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What Really Happens When You Swallow Your Gum? 

While doing research I came across a common misconception many people have. In almost every article I read they debunked the idea that if you swallow gum it stays in your stomach for seven years. So, my mom was clearly wrong when she told me the gum I swallowed would stay in my stomach forever. As I read article I learned that the way the stomach breaks down food is different from the way it breaks down gum. According to a different article our digestive system doesn’t have the enzymes to be able to break down the gum resin. The part of the gum that our body can’t break down goes along the digestive tract until it gets to your colon. Then it simply passes out of your body with your next bowel movement and this happens within three days of ingestion of the gum. So, were my friends who told me swallowing gum isn’t harmful right?

Can swallowing Gum be Harmful? 

Yes, they were right. Swallowing gum every once in a while by accident will not harm you and your body will simply pass the gum within just three days. But, if you are swallowing your gum every single day this will become a problem. While reading an article I learned what happens when you swallow gum too much. What happens is the digestive tract can get blocked if you either swallow too much gum at once or a lot of normal pieces of gum over time. The other article talks about a rare case when swallowing gum caused harm. In 1998 two children needed medical attention because they swallowed gum many times every day for a length of time. Clearly this is not normal behavior and it makes sense these kids needed medical attention. With the research I did on this topic it’s safe to say that if you swallow your gum every once in awhile you’ll live!



5 thoughts on “Is swallowing Your Gum Actually Bad for You?

  1. Jon Shanfelder

    This is a very quirky and relatable topic for me. When I was a child I used to swallow gum on accident every once in awhile and I used to get so scared that it was going to make me throw up or make my stomach hurt really bad. It is relieving now to hear that it is definitely not bad for me every once in a blue moon. This makes me wonder about other things I used to think hurt me as a child. Are watermelon seeds also alright to swallow?

  2. Mackenzie French

    My mom told me the exact same thing so I never would swallow gum, except when I was younger I would get confused from the lollipops that had gum inside them and I would always swallow it. It was interesting to read your blog to see if eating that gum from the lollipop actually harmed my body or not! Here is another article on the topic as well

  3. Alexander Mark Schaefer

    I love that you wrote about this topic. I remember growing up I was terrified to swallow gum because my ma would say the gum would stay in my system for seven years. As time passed I realized it was just a myth and if you didn’t do it often it wouldn’t be harmful. I had no idea that it took three ideas to digest gum though. I’m puzzled because gum has been around for a long time, but there hasn’t been a gum that’s safe to swallow. I believe it would be possible to substitute the actual gum for another substance that would e safe to swallow. I really enjoyed your post

  4. Anthony Michael Calligaro

    I found this topic intriguing as I used to believe in this myth because my mom yelled at me for the same exact reason! I guess it worked out well though as I never chewed gum throughout my childhood, thinking I would die if I swallowed it. Little did I know, I should have been more afraid of chewing the gum than I should have been of actually swallowing it. According to webmd (link below), chewing gum, especially for children, can be very dangerous. Not only can gum damage your teeth with all of its sugar, but gum can also cause young children to choke. Maybe my mom should have screamed “Spit that gum out” instead of “Don’t swallow it!”

  5. Hannah Marni Stern

    I thought this was very interesting… your mom isn’t the first person to say that! I would imagine that a sticky chewy substance wouldn’t pass as easy as food, but I found it interesting that the colon is the place where digestion stops. This is an example like we discussed in class where findings on an activity, such as the anecdotes of doing something is not sufficient evidence to change our behavior. Great blog!

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