Doctors may soon recommed patients who have undergone bowel surgery to chew gum for a speedy recovery. It has now been found by Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital researchers that chewing gum may enable restoration of normal bowel function following surgery. This may in turn result in early discharge from the hospital. The results of this interesting study can be found in the latest issue of Archives of Surgery journal.
These beneficial effects may be due to the stimulation of nerves associated with eating and the subsequent release of hormones that cause gastrointestinal activation. Bowel function may be compromised following any kind of abdominal surgery. This condition is commonly referred to as ileus, can cause increased post-operative pain, abdominal distension (bloating of abdomen) and vomiting, increased susceptibility to infections and breathing trouble, all of which necessitate further stay in the hospital.
The researchers recruited candidates who had undergone sigmoid colon resection (removal of a segment of the large intestine) for the study. The patients were divided into the experimental and control group. The experimental group participants were asked to chew sugarless gum thrice a day after the surgery. The control group members, on the other hand did not chew any gum.
It was found that the experimental group had a shorter hospital stay following surgery. They were discharged in about 4.3 days post-operatively while the control group members stayed on for an average of 6.8 days. In addition, those who chewed gum had their first bowel movement earlier compared to their counterparts.
Following these interesting findings, the researchers recommed the chewing of gum as a helpful and cheap alternative for patients who are unable to tolerate water or food following bowel surgery.