Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When You Swallowed a Chewing Gum

When I was less than five years old, whenever I chew a gum, my mom would say that chewing gum is so sticky that, if swallowed, it will cause the internal walls of the intestines to stick together. Adding to this was the scary thought that it will stay inside my intestines for years because it is not digestible.

What Really Happens When You Swallowed a Bubble Gum?

Over the years, I have accidentally swallowed about...two gums. And when I was matured enough, I've researched on the fact (or myth) about the actual effects that will result.

I found that the body will just absorb what it can from the gum, which is mostly the sweet ingredients. The rest is the indigestible gum resin or base, which like any other indigestible food or fiber, will pass through the intestines without causing any harm in one to three days. So what happened to the gum I have carelessly ingested? Well, it just ended up in the toilet long ago.

Why Did Our Parents Made Up the "Joke"?

This is because there are rare instances of gum contributing to an intestinal blockage. This happens when a person (more likely a child) took in a gum when he/she was already constipated or has swallowed large quantities along with indigestible food such as sunflower seed shells. Therefore, children should always be encouraged to throw away their gum when finished rather than swallowing it, but there is no risk of it remaining in the system for years.