Chewing gum can be a fun treat or a quick fix for bad breath. But, if swallowed, does it really get stuck in your stomach?
"Folklore would suggest that if you swallow gum, it stays in the stomach a really long time – up to seven years," says Dr. Mark V. Larson, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. “That simply is not true."
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Dr. Larson says your body treats an occasional gob of gum like any other foreign object it can’t digest.
"It will travel through uneventfully and, generally, is excreted quite rapidly," he says.
Still, Dr. Larson warns anyone – especially young kids – against routinely swallowing wads of this sticky stuff.
"They could cause a bezoar effect, which is a medical term for a collection of material, such as gum, which could cause blockage symptoms," he explains. "And, in small children, it could lead to intestinal concerns."
Bezoars can cause lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and a feeling of fullness after eating only a little food.
To be safe, when you’ve chewed through all the flavor and fun, put gum in the trash – not your tummy.