Stomach Pain Facts & Myths

A man in a plaid shirt making a large bubble with his gumTummy trouble is never a fun thing. Aches and pains can keep you from enjoying your meal, going to work and in general are unpleasant interruptions in your daily life. But because your stomach can’t speak (well, verbally), it’s sometimes hard to interpret exactly what could be wrong – especially with all the different conditions, foods and myths floating around out there.

1. If I swallow gum, does it really take seven years to digest?

It’s doesn’t seem that hard to believe that gum could hang around for a long time in your stomach, since, unlike other foods, it doesn’t dissolve in your mouth when you chew it. However, gum really doesn’t stick to your insides and cause any digestive problems. Instead, your digestive system moves gum along, just like everything else that’s passing through, and eliminates it within a few days.

2. Does spicy food cause stomach ulcers?

For a long time, it was thought that eating spicy foods increased ulcer risks. But science finally caught up to this myth; it’s now understood that the majority of stomach ulcers are caused either by an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacterpyloiri (H.pylori) or by use of pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen (NSAIDs). That said, spicy foods may certainly aggravate an existing ulcer in some people, but they do not cause them.

3. Should I just avoid beans, since they cause so much gas?