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Is It Safe to Swallow Chewing Gum?

If you have a child who swallows gum, should you be worried? What are the effects of swallowing chewing gum?

Even though chewing gum has been around for thousands of years, it’s still a treat that’s enjoyed by children around the world as well as adults who can’t get enough of its assorted sweet and sour flavors. One habit that young chewing gum enthusiasts have practiced for ages is the art of swallowing gum. While adults look on in horror, children gleefully smile and swallow that wad of chewing gum that was keeping their mouth in motion just minutes earlier.

Somewhere along the way the idea came into existence that it’s bad to swallow gum. The information passed along with this idea was that swallowed gum enters the stomach and remains in the gut for seven years. It was also thought that swallowed gum may find its way to the appendix where it could stick and cause appendiceal problems and possibly even increase the risk of appendicitis. What are the effects of swallowing gum? Can you swallow gum safely?

Gum is composed of latex sap, or chicle, derived from a tree native to South America called the sapodilla tree. More recently, a synthetic version of rubber has replaced much of the chicle previously used for making gum. In addition to the rubber base, chewing gum has added flavorings, sweeteners, food colorings, and preservatives to give it flavor, add color, and keep it fresh. Because chewing gum sticks so readily to surfaces such as streets and sidewalks, it’s logical to think it might have the same effect when it enters the digestive tract. Many people believe that swallowed gum is likely to stick to the esophagus on the way down to the stomach.

Fortunately, many of the fears about swallowing gum are unfounded. The negative health effects of swallowing gum are generally overplayed by well meaning moms everywhere. When swallowed chewing gum enters the stomach, it’s true that the gum can’t be digested but it’s usually passed in its undigested form safely through the digestive tract into the colon where it can be excreted into the stool. Fortunately, this process doesn’t take seven years as so many wives tales have stated.

Although the health effects of swallowing gum have been overplayed, there are rare cases in the medical literature of children who are habitual gum swallowers developing bezoars of the intestinal tract and esophagus resulting in obstruction. A bezoar is a lump of indigestible matter that’s unable to pass successfully through the digestive system. Fortunately, this occurrence appears to be quite rare when you consider how many children and even adults worldwide swallow their gum.

One of the biggest dangers of swallowing gum in children is the risk of choking. If a child is so young that his chewing and swallowing mechanisms are less developed, he or she can run the risk of aspirating the chewing gum which can be a medical emergency. For this reason, children under the age of six should probably not be given chewing gum, particularly bubble gum.

For the average older child and adult, the effects of swallowing gum are probably not overly risk, although this practice should be discouraged in the very rare event that chewing gum could promote bezoar formation in the digestive tract. Otherwise chewing gum should be enjoyed and appreciated for the little touch of sweetness it offers.

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  1. hey , i accidently swallow 2 piece of chewing gums , what shold i do? my email firefly_38@live.com.my

  2. the only reason i looked this up was cuz my husband thought he was so skinny cuz he swallowed chewing gum alot and it stuck to his stomach…lol

  3. Chewing gum is not digestible but it definitely doesn’t sit in your stomach for years. Gum actually might help things move through the bowels faster. if you want to know more watch the following link:http://www.bukisa.com/articles/48392_what-if-you-swallow-a-chewing-gum

  4. I only researched this because i’m chewing gum right now that is really good, and i want to swallow it… :)

  5. The only reason that I looked up this side is…because I swallow my chewing gums all the times .I did it as a child and I’m still doing it and my hubbie tells me every time I do it…..IT’S GONE TO KILL YOU…STOP IT….I know its a bad habit but ….

  6. Ditto to hardy :)

  7. hi..i accidently swallowed 3 chewing gum within 2 weeks..unfortunately their stuck in my throat!!what should i do??
    pls return by email…tks

  8. My favorite gums to swallow are bubble tape, big league chew, and the gum in the middle of blow pops… I just cant help myselft, its just tastes sooo good!

  9. I swallowed a piece of PK methol chewing gum and was afraid.

  10. swallow it

  11. is not going to hurt u i do all the time

  12. hiya

    I just swallowed my gum, also…it happen when I forgot to remove it and drank some water…then took tablets, felt them both sliding down my throat :D

    Eim,

    Maybe u should check a doctor….

  13. want to know how to dissolve the chewing gum after swallowing? Try this: It\’s my childhood experience::

    You should know chewing gum dissolves in Magarine (not butter). When you chew, put some margerine in your mouth and keep chewing… the gum will vanish in seconds!
    if you ever swallow gum, also swallow some margerine…
    by the way, I\’m not sure what kind of chemical compound these two can make together, you should consult a physician for this or a chemist.
    May be becuase the gum and margerine are both made of plant substracts, they get along with each other.
    If this helped you, pls write to me: rizmi73@hotmail.com

  14. I remember when I was a kid being told that swallowing gum would plug up your stomach and clog up your colon and intestines, preventing you from using the bathroom. I looked this up just to see if there were any actual effects of swallowing it. As they say on “G.I. Joe”: “Now you know and knowing is half the battle.”

  15. hi
    my 6yr girl baby swallowed bubble gum bubaloo
    it cause any problem
    kindly help me in this

  16. i hav swallowed a chewing gum ! i always feel it in my throat and i m in tention what will happen ! plz write me on my email id rajrajputc336@gmail.com

  17. Is it bad if a baby swallows gum?
    my email starcookie1@gmail.com

  18. I have developed a really bad habit of eating juicy fruit gum. I’m not talking about just swallowing it I mean eating like 15 pieces in about 15 or 20 minutes, and I need to know if it’s going to hurt me. It just taste so good!

  19. now i swalloed a chewing gum for first time in my life . i am preety woried what should i do please mail me

  20. The reason why I looked it up was because my girlfriend son is two years old and he likes to swallow gum I told her I don\’t think its good for him but like curious how much of a risk is it?

  21. i hav swallowed a chewing gum ! i always feel it in my throat and i m in tention what will happen ! plz write me on my email id mithunsharma70@yahoo.com

  22. I have been swallowing gum since I was a child [for more than 40 years], and I have not sustained any medical problems because of it… Too bad more people don’t do so, then we would have to worry about accidentally stepping on gum carelessly discarded or find it under tables, chairs and other surfaces…

  23. Swalow it.

  24. while i was out of the room of the lil baby i was babysitting she had gotten it a pack of left over gum that my lil brother left lying on the dresser, she 1 and 1/2, and i dont know how much she ate D; please tell me if it’ll hurt her cause i have no clue!!
    if it will hurt her please email me at:
    bubblegumsweety36@yahoo.com

  25. I’ve swallowed gum as an 8 year old and i did NOT feel anything whatsoever :D

  26. that’s what she said

  27. i searched this up for a science project can u tell me what to put :L

  28. I swallowed four pieaces of chewing gum today; my school doesn’t offer any trash cans

  29. This is the first time in my life that I swallow the chewing gum. What should i do? Does it hurt? What is the effect?

  30. my 2year old female baby swallowed chewing gum.does this make any harmful ?

  31. Ur all stupidest gum is good and if u don’t think so them ask a doctor dummmm ugh!! Morons

  32. My 3yr old daughter swallowed 3 sticks of gum should I take her to the ER please email me back ASAP

  33. My gum… Extra desser delights, Orange creme pop… So good.

  34. my 2 year old son accidentally swallow a chewing gum.. what can i do?

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