Swallowing gum is a common occurrence, especially in children. They put it in their mouth, chew on it, and sometimes swallow it unintentionally. There has been a long-standing myth that swallowing gum takes years to digest, but is it true?

The truth is that gum does not stay in your stomach for years; it passes through your digestive system like any other food. However, it is not entirely harmless. Let’s take a closer look at why swallowing gum can pose some risks.

The Digestive Process

When we eat food, it passes through a series of organs in our digestive system, starting with the mouth, then to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and lastly, the rectum. Along the way, the food is broken down, and the nutrients are absorbed into the body. The process of digestion is continuous and takes about 24-72 hours to complete.

The same process applies to gum. When you swallow chewing gum, it follows the same route as any other food. It enters the stomach and then moves to the small intestine. However, unlike food, gum is not easily broken down, and the body cannot digest it. The gum stays in the digestive tract for a couple of days and is then excreted in your feces.

The Dangers of Swallowing Gum

While it’s true that gum passes through your digestive system and is eventually excreted from your body, swallowing gum does pose some risks.

One of the most common risks is choking, especially in children. If a child swallows a significant amount of gum or chews gum while lying down, it can get lodged in their throat, blocking the airway. In some cases, emergency medical intervention is necessary.

Another risk is intestinal blockage. Although it is rare, some people may experience blockage in their digestive tract from swallowing large amounts of gum or from combining gum with other indigestible items like seeds or candy wrappers. This situation requires medical attention to remove the blockage.

Lastly, gum contains sugar and artificial sweeteners that can cause issues for people with diabetes or other health conditions. Therefore, people with such conditions should be mindful of the amount of gum they consume.

Myth Debunked: Gum Does Not Stay in Your System for Years

The idea that gum stays in your digestive system for seven years or more is just a myth. Gum, like any other food, is eventually digested and excreted from your body in a couple of days. This misconception likely arises because people may not notice a difference in their bowel movements after swallowing gum compared to other foods which can take up to 72 hours to pass through the digestive tract.

However, just because gum passes through your system quickly does not make it harmless. As we have seen above, there are still certain risks associated with swallowing gum. Thus, it is better to avoid swallowing gum altogether.

Tips to Avoid Swallowing Gum

There are a few simple precautions you can take to avoid accidentally swallowing gum:

1. Avoid chewing gum too quickly, as it increases the risk of swallowing it.
2. Dispose of gum properly, and make sure it’s out of reach of children and pets.
3. Don’t chew gum while lying down or in bed, as it increases the risk of choking.
4. Educate children on the risks and importance of disposing gum properly.


To sum up, while the myth that gum remains in your digestive system for years is not true, swallowing gum is not entirely without risks. It can pose a choking hazard, cause intestinal blockages, and have adverse effects on people with certain health conditions. Therefore, it is better to avoid swallowing gum altogether and dispose of it properly.


1. Medical News Today – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323781
2. Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/health/swallowing-gum

Further Reading:

1. “Is it bad to swallow gum?: Medical Myths, Legends and Health Consequences” by Aaron E. Carroll
2. “The truth about your stomach” by Scientific American


By Peter

4 thoughts on “The Misconception about Swallowing Gum: The Truth Unveiled”
  1. Wow, who knew that swallowing gum was such a risky activity? I mean, it’s not like it stays in your stomach for years or anything, but it can still cause intestinal blockages, choking hazards, and mess with people’s health conditions. Maybe it’s better to stick to regular food and avoid the risk altogether.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. It’s always good to be aware of potential health risks, no matter how small they may seem.

  2. Some additional precautions you can take to avoid accidentally swallowing gum include disposing of it properly after use, avoiding chewing multiple pieces of gum at once, and supervising young children while they are chewing gum. You can also try switching to gum with natural ingredients and no artificial sweeteners, as some studies suggest these may be more difficult for the body to digest.
    For more information about the risks of swallowing gum and how to prevent it, you can visit the American Academy of Pediatrics’ webpage on gum chewing safety: https://healthnews.com/nutrition/healthy-eating/how-does-chewing-gum-affect-your-digestive-system/.

  3. Yes, seeds and candy wrappers can also cause intestinal blockages if they are ingested in large amounts. While the digestive system can break down and absorb most food, some items like seeds and wrappers cannot be digested and can accumulate in the intestines, leading to blockages or impactions.

    According to Healthline, “Some common non-digestible items that can cause blockages or impactions include seeds, pits, bones, and shells from fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Additionally, non-food items like hair, plastic, and cloth can become caught in the digestive tract and lead to blockages.”

    Here is a webpage with more information about intestinal blockages and how to prevent them: https://www.healthline.com/health/intestinal-obstruction.

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