Gum Chewing Following Cesarean
In their research article entitled “Gum-Chewing Speeds Return of First Bowel Sounds but Not First Defecation after Cesarean Section,” Harma et al. (2009) explore a two-fold research question. First, they looked into the duration of postoperative ileus if gum was chewed following a cesarean section. Secondly they looked at whether there was a difference in the results when comparing patients who chewed sugar-free gum with the results of those who chewed gum with sugar substitute in it. In the experiment, 76 women were divided into three categories, the control group, the sugar-free gum group, and the group who were given sugar-substituted gum. The patients who got to chew gum did so every fifteen minutes starting two hours after their surgery. What the researchers found was that there was no marked difference between the three groups in comparing the time it took to their first episode of flatus following the cesarean section. They also found that there was little or no difference in the time it took to have their first episode of defecation when comparing the three groups. However, they did find that the first bowel sounds appeared in patients who were given the sugar-substituted gum far sooner than in either of the two groups. Those given sugar-substituted gum had the first bowel sounds at approximately 6.3 postoperative hours. The patients who were given sugar-free gum had the first bowel sounds at an average of 8.8 postoperative hours. Finally, patients in the control group experienced their first bowel sounds on average at 11.2 hours. Therefore, chewing sugar-free gum after a cesarean section is better than having no gum, but having sugar-substitute gum is the best possible solution if the goal is to produce the first bowel sounds. However, in terms of flatus and defecation, there is no significant difference between participants in any of the three groups.
Gum Chewing to Reduce Postoperative Ileus
Extensive research has been conducted into the process of gum chewing following various surgical procedures related to the digestive system. Most of these experiments have found that gum chewing stimulates the cephalic-vagal system which then triggers a response in the gastrointestinal tract and hormones are released as is the production of more saliva and juice from the pancreas. These in turn lead the body to return to normal functions of the bowel and the digestive system. In the article “Gum Chewing as a Strategy to Reduce the Duration of Postoperative Ileus,” authors Lafon and Lawson (2012) researched various qualitative experiments including several meta-analyses where other researchers examined multiple experiments. They found that almost unilaterally, gum-chewing produced the same positive effects as postoperative food consumption in terms of the body’s reactions without the postoperative complications or discomfort that comes from consuming food immediately after a surgical procedure. Generally speaking, patients who chewed gum postoperatively had a better rate of progress than patients who were not given gum to chew. In one study that Lafon and Lawson site, patients who underwent laparoscopic GI surgery chewed gum for 5 to 30 minutes three or four times a day and had astounding results. Their first occurrence of flatus was 12.6 hours sooner than the control and the time that they stayed in the hospital was a day less than the control group. Lafon and Lawson determined that gum-chewing is highly cost efficient, it is safer than other fast tracking methods and is tolerated well by most patients involved in experiments. Chewing gum lessons the time it takes for normal function to return to the bowels and lessons the amount of time patients need to stay in the hospital. This makes the cost of treating patients following procedures far less expensive and decreases the likelihood for medical complications.
Harma, M.I., Barut, I., Arkian, I.I., & Harma, M. (2009). Gum-chewing speeds return of first bowel sounds but not first defecation after cesarean section. Anatolian Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 1-3.
Lafon, C., & Lawson, L. (2012, April). Gum chewing as a strategy to reduce the duration of postoperative ileus. Gastrointestinal Nursing. Mark Allen. (10:3). 18-22.
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