Swallow a piece of gum?

Have you ever heard that if you swallow your gum, it will stay in your stomach for seven years? I heard that in elementary school. I came to find out it wasn’t true at all, which was good, as I feared I would have 16 packs of Hubba Bubba rolling around my stomach until I started college!

Myths like these are common. Usually, they don’t have any affect on our health, but sometimes they do. In ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) there are many such myths. Let’s talk about three of them.

Ear Popping

Image you are at the fair and some kid accidentally lets go of his helium balloon, and it floats into the sky. After the crying stops, you look up to see where the balloon went. If you could watch it for long enough, it would eventually pop as the pressure inside the balloon increased compared to the pressure of the atmosphere. Our ears are kind of the same. The ears and nose are connected by a tube made of muscle and cartilage that goes from the back of the nose to the ear. The space behind the ear drum is filled with air. Sometimes, the pressure between the air behind the ear drum and the atmosphere (or the air around your head) becomes different enough that the ear starts to malfunction, resulting in pressure.

Now, your ears won’t explode like a balloon, but they do need to pop. It is normal and healthy to pop your ears a few times a day. Pinch your nose closed, and try to blow out, like you are blowing your nose. Hold that pressure for 5 seconds. You should feel a gentle “pop” as the air flows from the back of your nose to your ears. So, go ahead and give it a try. It’s not bad for you!

Sinus headaches

I have patients who come in and ask  for antibiotics because they have a “sinus headache.” I ask them questions and find out that the only symptom they have of a sinus infection is the headache. Well, some researchers did a study on this, and found out that most people who have a “sinus headache” didn’t have sinus problems at all! It was something else, like migraine headaches. That doesn’t mean that no one has sinus headaches, but they are much less common than people tend to think.


What makes someone likely to have a sinus infection? A common issue is sensitivity to things that float around in the air, like pollen, dust, pet dander and molds. These are called environmental allergies, which are a common problem that can lead to chronic nose and sinus problems. The problem is that many times people do not believe they have allergies. People say, “I have had dogs my whole life; I can’t be allergic to them.” That is not correct. If you are allergic to something that you are around all day long, you don’t know what it is like not to be around them. So, you don’t know what it feels like not to have allergies!  That is why you don’t feel like you have allergies, not because you don’t actually have them. Many people will improve their sinus problems by taking care of their allergies.  A simple way to treat environmental allergies is to limit your time around them.  It’s that simple!

Post written by: Justin Gull, MD

Dr. Justin D. Gull is a board-certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) with special interests in vocal disorders, pediatric ear, nose and throat care, sinus and nasal surgery and diagnosing and treating environmental allergies.  He graduated from the University of Utah School of Medicine and completed his Otolaryngology residency at the University of Connecticut.  He is currently a part of the ENT specialty team at the Specialty Care Network at Jordan Family Health.

In his spare time, he enjoys winter sports, running biking and reading quietly.



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