What a sticky situation.
The unidentified child had ingested about 40 pieces of sugar-free gum, arriving at the emergency room the next day with cramps and diarrhea thanks to his obstructed GI tract.
Clinicians checked for “bezoars,” otherwise known as indigestible foreign objects that children tend to swallow.
The healthcare team, led by Dr. Chizite Iheonunekwu of the Cleveland Clinic, discovered his gummed-up tummy with scans that revealed the large mass.
The physicians removed the gum by placing an esophagoscope, or metal tube, down his throat and using forceps to grasp the buildup.
The young patient suffered a sore throat due to the multiple “passes” undertaken to extract the gummy glob, but was eventually discharged without long-term health consequences, according to the report.
While popular lore warns that chewing gum stays in the body for seven years, experts have debunked the commonly held belief.
“If you’ve swallowed a piece of gum, it’ll come out about 40 hours later in your stool,” registered dietitian Beth Czerwony told Cleveland Clinic last year. “Because it can’t be digested, it comes right out whole.”
But consuming the minty fresh chew shouldn’t be a regular habit — it can cause intestinal distress because it cannot be digested.
“If you do this every day, or multiple times a day, it can cause an intestinal blockage,” Czerwony cautioned.
“Anything you eat after that isn’t going to be able to get through, which causes a backup that leads to pain and pressure.”