EXCLUSIVE: Bit off more than he could chew: Five-year-old boy who swallowed FORTY pieces of gum needs emergency surgery to unblock his stomach
There’s a good reason moms have always warned us not to chew gum, because it can stay in our bodies “forever.”
A boy in Ohio swallowed nearly 40 pieces of the stuff and had to have emergency surgery emphasizes this point.
The child developed cramps and diarrhea as the gums clumped together in his stomach and began to block his digestive system. The emergency surgery involved pulling the lump of gum back down his throat.
He had no long-term effects, but doctors said he was lucky the gums hadn’t blocked his gut, which can be fatal as it can lead to the walls of the intestines being punctured and the contents leaking into the body.
The boy, whose name has not been released, had a large mass of chewing gum – medically called a bezoar gum – in his stomach (pictured)
Doctors removed it by placing a metal tube down his throat and gradually shoveling bits back through the mouth
The doctors, led by Dr. Chizite Iheonunekwu of the Cleveland Clinic, revealed the case in the medical publication JEM Reports.
They said children who present to the hospital with abdominal pain and diarrhea should be checked for “bezoars,” the name for swallowed foreign material.
On the day of the accident, the patient’s mother said the child ate an entire container of sugar-free gum.
She immediately called the local poison control center, which advised her to go to the emergency room if her son had stomach problems.
Hours later, he developed a stomach ache and started having diarrhea, which required him to go to the ER.
Scans revealed that the patient had a large mass — medically called a bezoar — lodged in his stomach, taking up about 25 percent of the space.
After discussing options, the doctors decided to remove it using multiple “courses” of the esophagus or esophagus.
This involved placing an esophagus, or a hollow metal tube, in the throat.
Other instruments such as tweezers are then placed inside the tube and used to pull off bits of the object to be removed.
These are then brought back up through the throat.
Doctors said the procedure required “several” gum removals.
They didn’t say if the child was awake, although he was probably sedated for the procedure.
During this time, the young person would have been asked to lie on his back with the tube down his throat.
Doctors said the boy complained of a sore throat the next day because of the “number of passes” it took to remove the gums.
He was given painkillers and allowed to go home.
The youngster has had no long-term adverse effects.
Doctors advise people not to swallow gum, although it is not harmful if a piece is accidentally ingested.
They say it generally passes through the digestive system intact before being eliminated in the stool.
But Dr Elizabeth Rajan, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, said: ‘In very rare cases, large amounts of swallowed gum combined with constipation have blocked the intestines in children.
“Therefore, frequent swallowing of gum should be discouraged, especially in children.”
The body cannot digest chewing gum because it is made of synthetic polymers and latex, which do not break down easily when ingested.
When someone swallows too much gum, it can clump together and form a mass that blocks the intestines.