My Bariatric Life: Dumping Syndrome Explained

Patient Expert

Dumping syndrome, also called rapid gastric emptying, is a common side effect of weight-loss surgery. It occurs when the undigested contents of the stomach pouch are "dumped" into the small intestine too quickly. The symptoms of abdominal cramping and nausea usually occur soon after eating although they could present as long as one to three hours later. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

The body's reaction to this rapid dumping is to add large amounts of fluid to the small intestine. The fluid is the catalyst of the symptoms. This syndrome does not normally require medical intervention. Adjustments in diet usually suffice.

Both early and late dumping occur after eating a meal, specifically when the foods consumed are high in fat, refined carbohydrates or sugar. Other triggers are eating foods that are either too hot or too cold or by drinking liquids with your meal. Early symptoms occur about 30 minutes after the meal and can include bloating, diarrhea, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating, and vomiting. The symptoms can result from stretching the small intestine, water from the bloodstream moving into the small intestine, or hormones that are released from the small intestine into the bloodstream that affect blood pressure.

Late dumping syndrome occurs when too much sugar is ingested, and the smaller stomach cannot digest it properly. The intestines then release too much sugar into the blood stream. More insulin is then released and the blood sugar drops. Some of the symptoms of late dumping syndrome are anxiety, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, rapid heart rate, feelings of confusion or problems concentrating, weakness, and feelings of hunger.

Eighty percent of patients are subject to dumping syndrome. The general rule is the more of the stomach that is removed the greater the possibility of dumping. Surgeries that have a higher risk for dumping are gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, and mini gastric bypass.

The successful remedy for dumping syndrome is a change in diet. Avoid the foods that promote weight gain. Do not eat sugars, unnecessary fat or refined carbohy-
drates.   Oftentimes, the surgery itself addresses cravings for these foods, and the desire naturally depletes. Should this not occur, disconcerting feelings about the prospect of dumping can exploit the fear factor. While natural sugars in fruits can prove problematic, fruit can be eaten providing there is a good amount of protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates in your diet. Acidic foods such as eggs, yogurt, and organ meats also should be avoided.

Eat a number of smaller meals daily instead of three large ones. This will make digestion easier.

Do not have liquids with your meals. Drinking increases the speed at which food passes through the stomach and into the intestine. In addition, avoiding liquids at mealtime can help to you reach and maintain a goal weight. Liquids also cause people to feel hungry and overeat.

Bariatric vitamins are normally prescribed following surgery, and it is important to take them.

If you lie down after eating, food will pass through your system more slowly.

Should changes in your diet prove ineffective, medications can be prescribed. If relief is still not had, surgery can be considered.

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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.