When my stress level rises at work, the first thing I notice is that I start accidentally dropping things: blood pressure cuffs slither out of my hands, and alcohol pledgets jump from the torn foil-lined packets to their deaths on the floor. On these shifts, I jokingly confide to coworkers, “The real reason I left pediatrics is because I kept dropping the babies.” As their jaws drop wide open I reassure them, “I’M KIDDING!”
The second thing I notice is I chew sugarless gum* like fiend. Although I rarely chew gum at home, at work I qualify as a chain-chewer. My weekly habit costs as much as a gallon of summer vacation-priced gasoline.
So imagine my happy happy joy joy (Ren & Stimpy reference: The Happy Helmet episode) while reading in a Time Healthland article that chewing gum has several benefits.
According to David Tao, author of the article linked above, chewing gum has six known benefits, which I paraphrase:
- It boosts brainpower
- Offers stress relief
- You can fix things by using chewed gum to plug leaks or as an adhesive. Disclaimer: Using gum for either in a health care facility may get you fired, and is certainly not condoned by Infection Control, The Joint Commission, or the author of this blog.
- Curbs hunger
- A vehicle for caffeine. This might not be a good idea for me. The caffeine might make my hands shake, and as noted above, by this point I am already dropping things.
- Catch fish. I cannot think of a nursing application for this. Apparently, some people use chewing gum as bait for catfish.
As if all of this weren’t wonder enough, Medscape (password required) published an article Gum Chewing Quickens Bowel Recovery After Liver Resection suggesting chewing gum may benefit a certain patient population:
June 7, 2012 — Results of a Korean study support the use of a relatively inexpensive intervention to hasten bowel function recovery after liver resection for hepatocellular cancer: gum chewing. In the study of 42 patients published online June 2 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, patients who chewed gum 3 times per day showed faster recovery in postoperative bowel function than those in a control group.
What’s not to like about chewing gum? It’s good for me, good for some patients.* *
Happy happy joy joy!
*For the prevention of dental caries, I prefer sugar free gum.
Another Disclaimer: **This blog post should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you seek medical advice, consult you licensed medical practitioner.