What Really Happens If You Swallow Your Chewing Gum?

Editor
Does it really stay in your stomach for years?
Chewed Gum

Photo Modified: Flickr/ Joe Ruiz/ CC BY-SA4.0

Make sure your gum ends up in a proper receptacle, like this wall. 

So you’ve decided to swallow some chewing gum. Maybe it was unintentional — whatever. Maybe you just didn’t feel like spitting it out. Maybe you were really hungry. We’ve all been told at one point or another — usually when we were kids, by other kids — that if we swallow chewing gum, it will stay in our stomach for a certain number of years, usually around seven. But is that really the case?

If you swallow gum, it’ll do what everything else that goes into your stomach does: It’ll pass through your digestive system and leave your body. It’s won’t necessarily be digested, because the gum base that chewing gum is made from can’t be broken down by the body, but that just means that the digestive system will just keep it moving along undisturbed.

Now, there are some rare instances where chewing gum can cause a blockage in the digestive system, but this is only when huge amounts of chewing gum are swallowed in a very short period of time, or when a wad of 20 pieces is swallowed in one go. This is primarily an issue for very small children, however, because their digestive tracts are smaller in diameter than those of adults. 

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