The belief that swallowed gum takes seven years to digest is a popular myth with no scientific basis. The human digestive system, consisting of the stomach and intestines, is highly efficient at breaking down food, and most ingested substances will pass through the system without incident. However, some objects can pose a risk if swallowed. In the case of chewing gum, while it may not remain in the stomach for seven years, it can still cause complications such as blockages in the digestive tract, particularly in children or those with pre-existing gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, it is important to avoid swallowing gum and dispose of it properly.
Chewing gum is typically made from polyisobutylene, a type of rubber that is not easily digestible by the human stomach. While the stomach is proficient at breaking down food, the indigestible nature of gum means that it cannot be fully broken down. However, the gum is unlikely to remain in the stomach for an extended period due to the body’s natural digestive processes. In most cases, the gum will pass through the digestive system without any issues. That said, in rare cases, particularly among children or individuals with pre-existing digestive issues, swallowing gum can lead to blockages or complications. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid swallowing gum and dispose of it properly.
Swallowed chewing gum typically passes through the digestive system and is excreted in the feces without causing any issues. However, there are certain cases where swallowed objects, including gum, can pose a risk. For instance, if a sizeable piece of gum becomes lodged in the throat, it can lead to choking. Similarly, if a large piece of gum obstructs the intestines, it can result in intestinal blockage. These complications are particularly concerning for children or individuals with pre-existing gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid swallowing gum and dispose of it properly to prevent potential hazards.
How long does gum stay in your stomach?
Contrary to the popular myth, swallowed gum does not stay in the human system for seven years. Instead, it typically remains in the digestive system for about a week or less before being expelled through the feces. While rare cases have been reported where gum remains in the intestines for up to a month, this is not the norm. The components in gum that make it challenging to digest are sugar and artificial sweeteners. However, once these ingredients are absorbed into the body, they begin to break down and are eventually eliminated. If you have concerns about gum remaining in your system for an extended period, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
How does gum digest in our system?
Chewing gum is usually broken down in the small intestine during the digestion process. However, complete elimination of gum from the body may take up to a week. Similar to other food items, excessive swallowing of gum can cause it to get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to complications. While the human digestive system is proficient at breaking down most substances, the body is unable to digest the synthetic rubber used in gum production. As a result, swallowed gum can potentially cause blockages in the digestive tract, particularly in children or individuals with pre-existing gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid excessive gum swallowing and dispose of it properly to prevent potential hazards.
Here is how gum will digest in your system or stomach
- You chew and swallow the gum
- It will go inside your esophagus and get to your stomach
- Once in the stomach, the gum will start to break down
- The digestive enzymes and gastric acids will work on the gum
- The breaking-down process will release carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids
- The small intestine will absorb these
- The indigestible part of the gum (the cellulose) will travel down to the large intestine
- Bacteria will break down the cellulose in the large intestine
- This process will produce gas, which may cause bloating or flatulence
- The indigestible part of the gum will be eliminated through the feces
- It can take up to one week for the entire gum to be eliminated from the body
Is swallowing gum hazardous?
The common belief that swallowed gum remains in the stomach for seven years is a myth with no scientific evidence to support it. According to the National Institute of Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), gum passes through the digestive system just like any other food.
However, excessive ingestion of gum can result in intestinal blockages. It is, therefore, crucial to monitor your stool and seek medical attention if you experience any abdominal pain or unusual changes in your stool after swallowing large pieces of gum.
Although generally safe to swallow, there are exceptional cases where swallowed objects like gum can pose a risk. For instance, large pieces of gum can get lodged in the throat, leading to choking. Similarly, when gum blocks the intestines, it can cause intestinal blockage, which can be particularly dangerous in children or individuals with pre-existing gastrointestinal issues.
If you have concerns about swallowing gum, consulting a medical professional can help alleviate your worries.
Where did the gum myth come from?
The widespread belief that swallowed gum takes seven years to digest can be attributed to a misinterpretation of the digestion process. Chewing gum contains two primary components, namely the gum base and sweeteners/flavorings. The gum base is a combination of elastomers, waxes, resins, and oils that provide gum its distinct chewiness, while sweeteners and flavorings enhance its taste.
Upon chewing gum, enzymes in the saliva break down the sweeteners and flavorings, while the gum base remains unaffected, as it is indigestible. Subsequently, the unaltered gum base passes through the digestive system like any other food item and is eventually eliminated through the stool.
Can swallowing gum cause stomach pain?
The idea that swallowed gum will linger in the stomach for seven years is a myth. In reality, the gum is non-toxic and will be excreted from the body like any other food, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). However, swallowing a considerable amount of gum in one go can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as constipation or blockages.
Hence, there is no need to panic if you accidentally ingest gum. It won’t have any lasting effects on your health, and your body will eliminate it within a few days. However, it is essential to monitor your stool and consult a doctor if you experience any discomfort or changes in bowel movements after swallowing a large amount of gum.
Can swallowing gum cause intestinal blockages?
Yes, swallowing large amounts of gum can lead to gastrointestinal blockages. However, this is a rare occurrence.
How long does it take for gum to pass through the digestive system?
Gum is generally excreted from the body within a few days. However, in rare cases, it can take up to a week.
Is it harmful to swallow gum?
Swallowing gum is generally considered safe and not harmful. However, swallowing large amounts of gum can cause constipation or blockages.
Can gum get stuck in your throat?
Yes, large pieces of gum can get stuck in your throat and cause choking. It is important to chew gum carefully and avoid swallowing it in large chunks.
What happens to gum when you swallow it?
Gum is non-toxic and will pass through the digestive system like any other food. The gum base is indigestible and will be excreted from the body, while the sweeteners and flavorings are broken down by saliva.
How can you tell if you have a blockage from swallowing gum?
How can you tell if you have a blockage from swallowing gum? A: If you experience constipation or changes in bowel movements after swallowing a large amount of gum, it may be an indication of a gastrointestinal blockage. In such cases, you should consult a doctor.
The belief that gum takes seven years to digest in the stomach is a myth. In reality, gum is not digested in the stomach as it is made up of indigestible components such as elastomers, resins, waxes, and oils. The sweeteners and flavorings in gum are broken down by saliva, but the gum base passes through the digestive system like any other food. While swallowing gum is generally safe, it can cause gastrointestinal blockages if a large amount is ingested. However, in most cases, gum is eliminated from the body within a few days without any complications.