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Sticky Situation: My 5-year-old swallowed 40 pieces of gum — here’s what happened next

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In a recent case study published in JEM Reports, a 5-year-old boy from Ohio found himself in a sticky situation as he underwent a medical procedure to extract a clump of chewing gum lodged in his stomach.

The young child had unintentionally ingested approximately 40 pieces of sugar-free gum, resulting in cramps and diarrhea that led him to the emergency room the following day, as his gastrointestinal tract became obstructed.

The medical team, led by Dr. Chizite Iheonunekwu from the Cleveland Clinic, investigated the situation, specifically looking for “bezoars,” which are undigestible foreign objects that children often swallow.

Through scans, the healthcare professionals identified the gum conglomerate causing the blockage in his stomach. To remove the gum, the physicians carefully employed an esophagoscope, a metal tube inserted through the throat, and used forceps to extract the accumulation.

During the process, the young patient experienced a sore throat due to the multiple passes required to dislodge the sticky mass. However, the report assures that he was ultimately discharged without any long-term health complications.

Contrary to popular belief, the notion that swallowed chewing gum remains in the body for seven years has been debunked by experts. Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony clarified that if the gum is ingested, it typically passes through the digestive system and exits the body within about 40 hours, appearing intact in the stool since it cannot be fully digested told NY Post.

Nonetheless, regular consumption of gum is not recommended as it can cause intestinal distress, leading to potential blockages. Czerwony cautioned against making it a habitual practice, as it can impede the passage of food, resulting in pain and pressure caused by the backup in the digestive system.

Rhiannon Ingle
Rhiannon Ingle
Journalist at the Medialinker Group


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