Chewing gum was invented in 1870 by Thomas Adams, who used the rubbery material chicle for a rubber substitute. According to the website IdeaFinder.com, Adams put a piece in his mouth out of boredom one day and decided the result was satisfactory. Gum has remained a popular food item and is available in a wide variety of colours and flavours. However, gum should be taken out of the mouth and disposed of when finished chewing, not swallowed, as there are some side effects on the stomach after swallowing gum.
The body cannot absorb chewing gum when swallowed, so it must pass through the body in its entirety. The gum generally moves through the body fairly quickly and will be excreted in the stool. In some cases, however, if enough chewing gum is consumed, it may cause intestinal blockage in children, according to the Mayo Clinic. Occasionally, swallowed chewing gum may result in the formation of bezoars, or a small ball of undigested material. Bezoars can obstruct the oesophagus or intestines and require medical intervention.
While swallowing gum once will not cause constipation, repeated instances of swallowed gum can worsen the condition by causing the stool to bind further and harden more, eventually causing pain and impaction that could necessitate surgery if not resolved.
According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, individuals who chew and swallow excessive amounts of sugar-free gum may experience chronic diarrhoea and weight loss due to the sorbitol content of sugar-free gum. High doses of sorbitol are linked to abdominal distress and have a laxative effect.
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