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Swallowed chewing gum in the sleeping position, difficulty swallowing, harmful effects ?

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I want an honest answer and not one to scare me.I swallowed a piece of chewing gum lying down on my side.Why was it difficult to swallow this chewing gum lying down on my side?.Is it okay to swallow chewing gum or any other gum lying down?.
Posted Sun, 22 Apr 2012 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 54 minutes later

Thanks for the query

Honestly speaking in the lying down position, the neck muscles and the fat over the neck try to compress over the throat causing difficulty in swallowing and secondly, the tongue tends to fall back which will add on to the effect.

There is no harm in chewing the gum or swallowing the gum on lying down position, but if you are doing so you are at the risk of aspiration of the same accidentally.

Let me explain it to you how this happens. The air we breathe usually passes behind the nose into the throat and from there into the wind pipe and lungs. In the lying down there is narrowing of the space behind your tongue and you will be doing two things simultaneously one is breathing as well as swallowing. There are chances that while you are doing both the things simultaneously, sometimes there can be a mismatch of the communication to the brain and in want of the air you might accidentally aspirate the gum into your lungs rather than pushing it into your food pipe (esophagus).

All the above said things are the possibilities and nothing to scare you.This happens very rarely, more so in children and elderly where in both have poor reflexes in the throat compared to the healthy adults.

Hope I have answered your query, if you have any more doubts you are welcome.

Dr. Naveen Kumar
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