Chewing Gum After Your Surgery

Time to Read: About 1 minute

This information explains how chewing gum after surgery can help your bowel get back to moving like normal. Your bowel is made up of your small intestine and large intestine (colon).

Sometimes, your bowel’s movement is slowed or stopped for a little while after surgery. This is called postoperative ileus (post-AH-pruh-tiv IL-e-us). It can lead to:

  • Discomfort.
  • Nausea (feeling like you’re going to throw up).
  • Vomiting (throwing up).
  • A longer hospital stay.

How can chewing gum help?

Chewing gum after surgery can help prevent postoperative ileus and shorten recovery time. Here are some ways it helps.

  • It gets your digestive system working. When you chew gum, your body makes saliva (spit). This can help kick-start your digestive system and bowel movement.
  • It makes your bowel move more. Chewing gum activates the muscles in your digestive tract. This can help food and waste move through your intestines more quickly.
  • It helps lessen discomfort. When your bowel moves more, you have less discomfort and uncomfortable bloating.
  • It can make your hospital stay shorter. People who chew gum after surgery are more likely to recover faster and leave the hospital sooner than people who do not chew gum.

What can I expect before and after my surgery?

When you’re scheduled for surgery, your healthcare provider will talk with you about chewing gum after surgery. If you want, you can bring a pack of gum with you on the day of your surgery. It’s best to choose sugar-free gum. This helps protect your teeth and keeps your blood sugar stable.

Do not chew gum after midnight the night before your surgery.

After surgery, your nurse will give you a pack of sugar-free gum. They’ll tell you to chew a piece of gum for 30 minutes 3 times per day. It’s best to do it in the morning, around noon, and in the evening.

Last Updated

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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