What Happens If You Eat Paper?

Paper is primarily composed of wood pulp, which is made by breaking down wood chips and adding chemicals to create pulp. This pulp is then pressed and dried into thin sheets, which become what we know as paper.

In addition to wood pulp, paper can also contain other materials such as cotton, linen, or even synthetic fibers. These materials are often added to increase the strength or texture of the paper. However, regardless of the materials used, paper is not meant to be consumed as food.

When you accidentally eat small amounts of paper, it’s generally not a cause for significant concern. Paper is made from plant fibers, primarily cellulose, which is not toxic to humans. In most cases, a small piece of paper that you might swallow inadvertently will likely pass through your digestive system without causing harm.

Digestive System Overview

To understand why eating paper is dangerous, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of your digestive system. When you eat food, it travels down your esophagus and into your stomach, where it is broken down into smaller pieces. These pieces then pass through your small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed, before moving on to your large intestine.

Intestine, appendix and digestive system, doctor holding anatomy model.

However, when you eat paper, it can get stuck in any of these areas, leading to an obstruction. An obstruction can cause severe pain, vomiting, and even a ruptured intestine or stomach, which can be life-threatening.

Potential Harm Caused by Ingesting Paper

In addition to the possibility of an obstruction, eating paper can also cause other health problems. For example, if you consume paper regularly, it can lead to malnutrition as your body is not getting the nutrients it needs from real food. This can result in weight loss, fatigue, and other health issues.

Furthermore, if you consume paper that has been treated with chemicals, it can cause irritation or burns in your mouth, throat, or stomach. This can lead to inflammation, swelling, and even damage to your digestive system.

Symptoms of Paper Consumption

The symptoms of paper consumption can vary depending on the amount of paper consumed and how often it is consumed. In the short term, you may experience mild symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting. However, if the obstruction is severe or long-lasting, it can cause more serious symptoms, such as:

Woman stomach pain

Severe abdominal pain
Blood in the stool

Fatigued upset young woman massaging forehead bridge

In the long term, consuming paper regularly can lead to malnutrition, weight loss, and fatigue. It can also cause damage to your digestive system, leading to more severe health problems over time.


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