Mom loves doling out medical advice. But does she always know what she’s talking about? Jennifer Caudle, D.O., family physician, says you might want to think twice before listening to Dr. Mom — at least when it comes to those scary warnings about swallowing gum.
“My mom always told me, ‘do not swallow your gum,’” Jennifer Stark, a New York City mom, told Caudle, as the two sat down to hash out the reality for the benefit of Stark’s son, Henry. Also part of her mother’s warning: “It will take seven years to digest that gum.” Stark passed on the advice to Henry, telling him, “Gum swallowing: big no-no.”
But Caudle weighed in with a surprising reveal. “If you swallow a piece of gum every now and then, it’s not a big deal,” she said. “It just comes out in your poo.”
Stark then revealed that her son swallows his gum daily, which Caudle wasn’t thrilled to hear. “That’s a problem,” she advised. “Swallowing every day, that could actually become a problem.” That’s because when constipation (not so uncommon in kids) is combined with large amounts of swallowed gum, the result, albeit rare, could be blocked intestines.
Stark went on to share another piece of her mother’s sage advice — that shaving her legs would make her hair grow in thicker. “I so badly wanted to sneak into my mom’s bathroom and take her razor,” she said. Turns out Caudle’s mother told her the same thing. But does shaving truly put you in such a hairy situation?
Not so much. “It doesn’t change any of that,” she says. “It’s just because it’s started to grow in and it feels thicker and it feels more ‘foresty’ than normal, but it doesn’t grow in thicker. That’s the truth.”
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