What Happens If... You Swallow Gum?

Swallowing gum: who hasn’t done it?

You get distracted, forget it’s not supposed to be ingested but sort of spat out, and gulp it down.

But despite the rumour – which almost everyone seems to have heard – this ingested gum does not then stay inside your gut for around seven years.

In fact, if you just swallow a piece or two, it’s not really a big deal at all.

Aside from the sugars and minimal nutrients, most of the gum won’t be digested and broken down for nutritional value like the rest of your food (because your enzymes simply can’t tackle the sticky substance) but will still pass through your digestive system.

It will then come out the other end, in the toilet (hopefully) along with the rest of your ingested meals around 40 hours after consumption.

It probably won’t be in your stomach for more than seven days, according to Healthline.

So why is there such a fuss around it?

Well, as the health outlet points out, swallowing large amounts of gum in a short amount of time or ingesting it at the same time as other indigestible things which could then all stick together, means you could end up with a blockage in your gut called a bezoar.

After all, gum is made up of polymers, plasticisers and resins, mixed with sweeteners, colours and flavouring with a hard coating.

Sometimes it can also contain seriously dodgy things you definitely should not swallow, like white glue, plastic bags or even caulking.

So if you swallow a lot and there’s a chance it mean you have to get surgery for removal.

A blockage will trigger abdominal pain, constipation and occasionally vomiting, (sometimes gas, diarrhoea and mouth ulcers might pop up too) so it’s worth contacting your GP if you think this applies to you.

The BBC have also suggested that severe constipation is likely if you swallow gum that is more than 2cm wide.

The US Food and Drug Administration also says chewing gum is a “food of minimal nutritional value”, along with sweets and fizzy drinks – so it might be worth thinking twice before letting any children chew it...

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