Home Travel Why You Shouldn’t Chew Gum On A Plane

Why You Shouldn’t Chew Gum On A Plane

by SharonKurheg

The first time I ever went on a plane, my parents gave me a stick of gum to chew on, to help with any potential ear pain from the pressure changes. For the next several years, any time I went on a plane I popped a stick of gum, just in case. As it turned out, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing I could have done. Here’s why:

When you chew gum, you wind up swallowing more often and part of what you swallow is air. Meanwhile, because of the pressurization of the cabin during flight, we’re already at more risk for passing gas in a plane. So the extra air you’re swallowing could be an added factor in farting on the plane. Or at least suffering from gas while you’re sitting there.

In fact, it even has a name. Aerophagia (aero = air, phagia = swallowing)

Oh, and if you’re chewing sugar-free gum? It’s a double whammy for feeling gassy, because artificial sweeteners can also give you gas.

What to do instead

Of course, just because you shouldn’t chew gum to relieve the uncomfortable feeling of pressure in your ear doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Try these:

  • Use these (I’ve been using them for years and they are AMAZING)
  • Yawn
  • Swallow (you don’t have to have anything in your mouth to swallow)
  • Suck on candy (you’ll still swallow air but your mouth will generally stay closed and you won’t swallow as much air as when you’re chewing gum)
  • Hold your nose and mouth shut and gently exhale (this is called the Valsalva maneuver. Don’t do it if you have a cold or allergies, because it could lead to an ear infection. Instead, try to Toynbee maneuver: close your mouth and nose and swallow several times until the pressure equalizes.)

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Willy January 24, 2020 - 5:11 pm

My goodness this is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve read on Boarding Area in quite a while. The only extra gas you’ll produce is from the existing gas in your body when you leave your starting altitude and then climb to the pressure controlled cruising altitude of the airplane cabin. Sure, that air will expand in the lower pressure of the higher cabin altitude and may produce side effects.

But if you start chewing gum at just about anytime after takeoff you’re nearly at or already at cabin altitude and breathing same-altitude air which won’t expand anymore then if you were walking around town. No chance for extra gas at all. Sheesh. Who dreams up this stuff?

Chew gum, pick your nose, yawn, valsalva, whatever, it’s all the same.


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