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Can chewing gum slip past one's throat without swallowing?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
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If either a small piece of chewing gum or a small tablet slipped past your throat without you swallowing would either of them pass straight into your oesephagus?.By oesephagus I mean the pipe food is for.Is there enough room for either a small piece of chewing gum or a small tablet to slip past your throat without you swallowing?.If so then where would either end up?.
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 2 hours later

Thank you for your query.

1. If you have felt a small piece of chewing gum or a small tablet slip into your throat without swallowing, it has passed into your esophagus (food pipe).

2. Even the tiniest drop of saliva entering the trachea (wind pipe) can trigger off violent coughing, breathlessness and even vomiting. If you did not get these symptoms, there is no cause for worry.

3. I must emphasize that this is a fairly common experience. Many people do not use water to swallow tablets. The physiology of swallowing is such that the chances of the morsel of food ending up in the wind pipe silently is probably a few millions to one. Millions of people swallow millions of tablets every day, and none end up in the airway.

4. Regarding the space, there is a potential space on either side of the entrance of the food pipe (and below the wind pipe) known as the pyriform fossa which can retain a small amount of food and saliva till the next swallow. You may even be surprized to know that this space is also known as the "smuggler's fossa" where XXXXXXX and gold smugglers have voluntarily stored contraband.

5. To clear any doubt you may get a local ENT specialist to do a mirror examination or a videolaryngoscopy and chest x-ray done.

I hope I have answered your query. If you have any follow up queries, I will be available to answer them.

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