Chewing gum stuck in your throat what to do

Chewing gum swallowed: how dangerous is it?

chewing gums ensure fresh breath and help to bridge the time until the next delicacy. But what to do with them if there is no trash can within reach? Many warn against swallowing - rightly?

Its stickiness gave the gum a lifesaving mission worthy of MacGyver. In 1911, a British Royal Air Force aircraft was over the vastness of the Atlantic when the crew discovered a leak. In the absence of any other filler material, the crew hastily began to chew gum, according to "The Great American Chewing Gum Book". She stuffed the hole with the sticky mass, and the machine and crew reached their destination without further damage.

As fascinating as this story is, it makes you a little skeptical: Should you swallow something that sticks so strongly? Of course not, warn many parents and friends in chorus, chewing gum cannot be digested and over the years forms a huge ball in the stomach with a mint banana cherry flavor.

But it's not that fatal after all. Chewing gum sticks because it can adapt to other surfaces down to the smallest detail. It fixes itself so perfectly in the grooves of the jeans or in the small scratches on the wooden table that it almost merges with them. In the body, however, he does not get an opportunity to do so. Whether in the mouth, in the esophagus, in the stomach or in the intestines: Everywhere a film of moisture forms on the chewing gum, which prevents direct contact with the body surface. No sticking. Nevertheless, the question remains what happens to the sticky mass during digestion.

Indigestible lump

In fact, our bodies can only use tiny amounts of chewing gum. Only the sugar and other additives such as aromas are released from the chewing gum during digestion and are distributed throughout the organism via the bloodstream. But the body cannot do anything with the rest of it, the white gum. Driven by the indefatigable undulations of the digestive system, it travels from the stomach via the small intestine to the large intestine.

In the end, it plops where everything that our body cannot use from food ends up: the toilet. "What goes in at the top comes out again at the bottom," says Axel Enninger, pediatric gastroenterologist at the Stuttgart Clinic. At least that's true for the majority of cases.

A British woman who came to the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol with nausea had a different experience. The woman, around 40 years old, suddenly couldn't swallow any more. Neither liquid nor solid, everything gave her discomfort. The doctors could not see anything on X-rays, they write in the "British Medical Journal". However, when they penetrated the esophagus with an endoscope - a tubular device with a camera and light - they came across a five by five centimeter, cream-colored ball.

When asked, the patient admitted that she swallowed the contents of about three chewing gum packets a day. In such quantities, the viscous mass can actually combine into a large lump and get stuck. Often, however, this does not happen, not even with children with even smaller openings: "I don't know anyone who has been harmed by swallowing chewing gum," says gastroenterologist Enninger. Under normal conditions, no one has to worry about swallowed chewing gum clogging their digestive tract.

The real danger of chewing gum

Enninger sees the real danger of chewing gum in a completely different place, just like doctors from the Berlin Charité. In a report they describe the case of a 21-year-old who suffered from constant diarrhea for eight months. The young woman ran to the toilet four to twelve times a day. Her body disappeared, she only weighed 40.8 kilograms. After various errands, the doctors came across the cause of the problem: sugar-free chewing gum.

The woman chewed up to 16 strips every day, consuming up to 20 grams of the sweetener sorbitol, which is also used as a laxative. The sugar alcohol passes through the digestion like the gum, but on its way through the intestine it binds water to itself - and thins the stool. "We actually see chewing gum diarrhea like this often in the clinic," says Enninger. The diarrhea is usually just a nuisance. "It is rare for patients to lose weight and get sick as a result."

Nevertheless, the expert can also find good things in chewing gum. In patients who can only eat liquids for some time due to an illness, the sweets keep the chewing muscles in shape. Also, studies in adolescents and young adults show that chewing gum after eating can relieve heartburn. "That's probably because chewing stimulates the movement of the gastrointestinal tract," says Enninger. And then digestion works better.

Conclusion: chewing gum can even be good for digestion! If there's no trash can around, it doesn't hurt to swallow one. He's guaranteed to find his way out again. It shouldn't be just a whole package.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.