Bubble gum

What Happens if You Swallow Gum?

If you’re a gum chewer, you’ve been there: You need to get rid of your gum, but there isn’t a trashcan to be found, not a scrap of paper in sight. Sure, you could stick it to the underside of a table, but you’re not trying to be rude. 

Is it bad to swallow gum? 

Swallowing one piece of gum every now and then isn’t likely to do any harm. But you shouldn’t make a habit of swallowing your gum on a regular basis, as it has the potential to do some damage. 

Sick woman having sore throat, tonsillitis, feeling sick, suffering from painful swallowing isolated

Gum used to come from tree resin. These days, though, chewing gum is made of a substance called gum base, which is largely synthetic — not made from any real food ingredients. Gum base is non-nutritive, which means it doesn’t provide any nutritional value, and is nondigestible, which means your body can’t break it down like it does other foods.  

Does gum stay in your stomach for seven years? 

No. “You’d have to be experiencing some other medical condition for anything you swallowed to stay in your body for seven years,” Czerwony says. So don’t worry: Gum doesn’t stay in your stomach for seven years or even seven days.  

“If you’ve swallowed a piece of gum, it’ll come out about 40 hours later in your stool,” Czerwony assures. “Because it can’t be digested, it comes right out whole.”  

That sounds alarming, but it’s actually not that unusual to swallow things your body can’t digest. Raw seeds, kernels of corn and the skin of bell peppers are just a few common foods that typically pass through your digestive system relatively untouched. 

So, as long as you’ve only swallowed one piece of gum, there’s really no need to even keep an eye on your poop to watch for the gum to pass. Just trust that what goes in will eventually come back out. 


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