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What Happens When You Swallow Gum

Madhura Pandit Jul 28, 2020
You must have heard about the numerous theories about the effects of swallowing gum. Are they true? Here are facts about what exactly happens when you swallow gum.
There must have been at least one incidence in your life where you must have swallowed a chewing gum accidentally. What happens if you swallow gum? One of the most common myths known to people (and given by mothers to keep children from swallowing gum) is that chewing gum sticks in one's intestines and takes seven years to get washed out from the body!
Secondly, swallowing chewing gum is said to obstruct one's intestines which can result in stomach disorders or constipation. How far is this true?

Is it Dangerous to Swallow Gum

The basic ingredients of chewing gum are sweeteners, corn syrup, food colors, softeners, added flavors, and gum base (gum resin), etc. All these ingredients are easily digested in the human body, except gum resin. Therefore, when one swallows a gum, all the ingredients of the gum get digested in the body.
The gum resin, on the other hand, does not get digested, but, moves along the intestines with other foodstuffs and gets out of the body during excretion. The whole process of passing of the gum resin from the esophagus to the stomach to the intestine and outside may take longer time than usual (2 - 3 days), but definitely not seven years!
This only proves that there are NO severe health hazards if one swallows a single chewing gum accidentally.
Swallowing large amounts of chewing gum in a relatively short period can lead to blocking of the digestive tract. But this is a rare case. Infants and babies are at a risk of choking from chewing gum.
Babies, especially, lack the maturity to understand that chewing gum should only be chewed and not swallowed and hence, there is a high risk of choking. Also, if babies swallow other things like a whole peanut, a coin, etc., along with chewing gum, it can turn into an emergency condition.
One should also note that there can be several potential side effects of chewing gum like diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, etc. Sugar-free chewing gum especially poses more threat to one's health as it contains artificial sweeteners which come along with a set of potential side effects. Swallowing chewing gum in large quantities can lead to constipation.

Swallowing Gum While Pregnant

Many pregnant women wish to know about the consequences of swallowing chewing gum during pregnancy. The effect of swallowing a single chewing gum during pregnancy are similar as the above mentioned ones. However, chewing gum contains artificial sweeteners and flavorings, which can be harmful for the baby and the expecting mother.
Certain flavors like cinnamon (may cause mouth sores or ulcers), licorice (may cause high blood pressure), sorbitol (may cause diarrhea) are harmful for pregnant women. Chewing gum containing these products may or may not have the warning mentioned on the label.
Therefore, it is advisable not to swallow chewing gum. Sugar-free chewing gum is not recommended for pregnant women as it contains aspartame or sucralose, which are believed to have potential side effects.
Swallowed gum gets excreted from the body within 72 hours. The gum definitely does not stay in your body for 7 years. But, swallowing gum in large quantities can be dangerous. Take care!
Disclaimer: This story is meant only to provide information.