What happens when you swallow your chewing gum? Does it sit undigested in your stomach for years and years? Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times reports:Here’s a fun story.
This is, for the most part, an old wives’ tale. Swallowed chewing gum typically passes through the digestive tract without harm and is eliminated at the same rate as other foods.I still think it’s a good way to keep your kids from swallowing their gum, although, you might not want to burst their bubble about the whole Santa Claus thing just yet.
But rare complications can occur. The medical literature contains several case reports of people, mostly small children, who developed intestinal obstructions because they had a habit of swallowing their gum. A 1998 study in the journal Pediatrics, for example, described three children who came to a clinic with intestinal pain, constipation and other symptoms, and were found to have small masses of chewing gum in their guts. One was a 4-year-old boy who “always swallowed his gum after chewing five to seven pieces each day.” Another was a 4-year-old girl.