Chew gum, save money on some hospital bills

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Sometimes you just do not have a choice. In order to successfully deliver a baby a Caesarean section is the only way. And, often times this surgical procedure to the abdomen disrupts intestinal function, causing women to remain in hospitals for long periods of time after surgery. But, there is one simple thing you can do to recover faster from a C-section.

Every day you spend in the hospital after a C-section, or any surgery in the area of the abdomen, means a higher medical bill.

"We can't discharge the patient from the hospital until they're able to eat, until their bowels are moving, they're passing gas and having normal bowel movements," said Dr. Elias Fanous, a gastroenterologist.

"Part of it has to do with the surgery itself, part of it has to do with the anesthesia, and it does take sometime to get back to normal functioning," said Dr. Richard Tutt, an obstetrician gynecologist.

The goal is stimulating bowel activity, and doctor's say that chewing gum sets off a nervous system response, and releasing digestive hormones. And, just not any gum. . . The study was specific. Sugarless gum stimulates the bowels.

"Sugarless gum has sweeteners in it that we also use as laxatives," said Fanous."So, it's possible that the sugarless gum has a component in it that is working like a laxative and getting the bodies bowel moving faster as well."

"Certainly, it'll help some patients, because there are some patients who do seem to take a lot longer to have normal return to bowel, and if it does certainly help those patients, then there will be some benefit," said Tutt.

Researchers found that women who chew one stick of sugarless gum for 15 minutes every two hours after surgery will regain normal bowel movement faster, and could leave hospitals nearly 10 hours faster than those who don't chew gum. Fanous says he's been recommending chewing gum to his patient for years.

"I think it's an inexpensive, very safe way to get the bowels activated and hopefully get you out of the hospital sooner," said Fanous.

In the study, half of the women were given chewing gum after surgery. The others were treated with standard care. The women who chewed gum recovered faster.

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