Dumping Syndrome

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Dumping Syndrome and How to Deal with It

It’s not unusual to feel nauseated or “dizzy” after eating a big meal. It is very common for people who have had weight loss surgery to experience symptoms like nausea, weakness, sweating and/or cramping soon after they eat.

This condition is called Dumping Syndrome.

It’s quite common to following gastric bypass or a gastric sleeve to experience dumping syndrome. Today I’ll be sharing more about what happens, what causes it and how to deal with it at home. 

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What Is Dumping Syndrome?

Dumping after gastric bypass is a condition that you can get after you have surgery to remove all or part of your stomach. Additionally, this condition can develop in people who have had esophageal surgery. Dumping is also called rapid gastric emptying. It occurs when food that is high in sugar content movies from your stomach to your bowel too quickly. 

It is called dumping syndrome because your food, in essence, gets “dumped” directly from your pouch to your small intestine without it digesting. There are two types of dumping syndrome that you can get: early dumping syndrome and late dumping syndrome. 

Early and Late Dumping Syndrome

There are two types of dumping syndrome. The first one is called early dumping syndrome whereas the latter is late dumping syndrome. I’ll go into detail to explain the two different types:

Early Dumping Syndrome

So what are the symptoms of the early phase?

Early dumping syndrome means you start getting symptoms about 10-30 minutes after you eat a meal. This occurs because the food gets dumped into the small intestines too early. The intestines then sense that the food is too concentrated and release gut hormones. Of course, your body reacts to this shifting fluid. As a result, you end up feeling bloated and diarrhea is common about 30-minutes later. 

In addition to just feeling yucky, the substances that are released by your intestine affect your heart rate and blood pressure. This can cause several other symptoms that you will see below. 

Late Dumping Syndrome

What are the symptoms of late dumping syndrome?

Late dumping syndrome means that you will start feeling symptoms about 1 to 3 hours after eating a meal. This is a little different than early and it causes different symptoms. These symptoms happen because of a decrease in your blood sugar level.

Late dumping causes low blood sugar because you have a large surge of insulin. This happens when you eat meals heavy in starches or sugars. When you eat like this, the insulin levels increase too high which lowers your blood sugar too much. 

In addition to just feeling yucky, the substances that are released by your intestine affect your heart rate and blood pressure. This can cause several other symptoms that you will see below. 

What are the Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome? 

Typically, signs and symptoms of dumping syndrome occur right after you eat a meal rich in table sugar or fruit sugar. Some of the signs and symptoms could be: 

  • Bloating or feeling too full after eating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushing
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

However, if you have late dumping syndrome, you may have different symptoms. These symptoms will develop one to three hours after you eat a meal high in sugar content. Ultimately you will feel the symptoms of low blood sugar which can include: 

  • Flushing
  • Sweating 
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Weakness

Some people that have had a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve will experience both early dumping syndrome and late dumping syndrome. It can develop right after your surgery or it can develop years later. Keep an eye on your symptoms and let your doctor know if you are having early or late dumping syndrome symptoms. 

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Symptoms of Early and Late Dumping Syndrome

The symptoms of early and late dumping syndrome may vary from person to person and if you experience this you may need to record the symptoms you have in order to understand how this effects you.

Risk Factors for Dumping Syndrome

Dumping Syndrome is a temporary condition resulting from consuming large amounts of sugar at one time, such as eating dessert. It affects people who have had their stomachs removed or experience problems with the nerves that tell the stomach to empty.

Some of the risk factors for dumping syndrome include:

  • Eating simple sugars
  • Having fructose
  • Sucrose ,
  • Lactose, or sorbitol intolerance
  • Having surgery on the digestive system
  • Stress
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Not getting enough protein in you diet
  • Anxiety or depression can also play a role.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Dumping Syndrome

The best way to reduce your risk of dumping syndrome after gastric bypass surgery is to avoid foods that contain high amounts of simple sugars like fructose or sucrose. For example, you should avoid regular soda, fruit juices, cakes, cookies, pie and other foods with large amounts of sugar.

Eat small portions at any one time and wait at least 2 or 3 hours before eating again.

Eat foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, soy, eggs and beans. These types of proteins take longer for your stomach to digest so they won’t cause dumping symptoms. Keep track of your symptoms with a symptom diary.

If you have chronic symptoms or symptoms that seem severe, ask your doctor for support.

Some foods that are higher in protein include:

  • Meat (beef, pork, lamb)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt)
  • Tofu
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
  • Soy products (soy milk, soy yogurt, tempeh)

You should also consult your dietician for a suitable meal plan.

How To Deal With Dumping Syndrome

The good thing about dumping syndrome is that it can usually be treated by making changes to your diet. Here are some ways you can change your diet that could decrease the number of times you have symptoms from dumping syndrome. 

  • Wait up to 30-minutes to drink liquids after a meal. 
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day. 6 meals is usually ideal. 
  • Lie down for 30-minutes after you eat a meal to help you digest your food and control the symptoms. 
  • Eat complex carbs such as whole grains instead of simple sugars. 
  • Avoid simple carbohydrates. You can find these in foods that are made with white flour. Also, avoid foods with sugar.
  • Eat a more protein-based diet. Add more protein and fat into your meals.
  • Make your food thicker with guar gum or pectin.
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Treatment Options for Dumping Syndrome

If dietary changes do not help with the dumping syndrome, you may have to go another route. Early dumping tends to resolve on its own with diet changes in one to three months. However, if it doesn’t your doctor may recommend other things such as medications or surgery. 

Medications To Help Dumping Syndrome

With severe signs and symptoms of dumping syndrome, many doctors prescribe a medication called Octreotide (Sandostatin). This is an anti-diarrheal drug that slows the emptying of food into your intestines. It is administered by injection under the skin. 

Surgery To Help Dumping Syndrome

If dietary changes do not work and medication does not work, the last approach is to try surgery. There are a variety of surgical procedures that can be used to treat people who suffer from this condition.

Most of the operations are reconstructive techniques such as reconstructing the pylorus. Other options can reverse the gastric bypass surgery all together. 

Should I Avoid Acidic Foods After Gastric Bypass?

Not necessarily. Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure that changes your stomach and intestines to make you feel full sooner, eat less and lose weight. But this means the gastrointestinal tract may not function exactly as it used to before surgery. After gastric bypass, some people experience dumping syndrome because they cannot handle foods that lead to an acidic environment in the stomach.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Dumping Syndrome, you may want to avoid foods that are acidic in nature. Some examples of these foods include citrus fruit and juices, tomatoes, pineapple or vinegar-based sauces.

Avoiding foods that are acidic can help with symptoms of dumping syndrome. You may still be able to consume these foods in moderation, but avoid eating too much at any one time.

You should also eat these acidic foods along with a food that is high in protein so you don’t overwhelm your stomach. For example, if you have an orange juice in the morning, make sure you add an egg or a slice of toast to your breakfast.

Always Talk to Your Doctor

No matter what symptoms you may be experiencing, it is always best to talk with your doctor about them. Your doctor will be able to guide you on the best course of action. If you think you have dumping talk with your doctor about it, you can expect your doctor to ask the following questions:

  • Have you had surgery? What kind?
  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Are your symptoms continuous or occasional?
  •  How long after you eat a meal do your symptoms begin?
  • Do some foods make your symptoms worse?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how bad are your symptoms?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • Does anything make your symptoms worse? 

In addition to your doctor asking you questions, you should be prepared with questions of your own. Here are some great questions you could ask your doctor on your next visit:

  • Do I need any tests?
  • What would my best course of action be?
  • Do I need to see a dietitian?
  • How can I manage this condition with other health conditions?
  • Do you think I should see a specialist?
  • What websites do you recommend I look at to learn more about this syndrome? 

If you have other questions, don’t be afraid to ask them! 

You may not have dumping symptoms now, but remember, it could happen years after the surgery. Go ahead and pin this post to Pinterest just in case you need to refer back to it later! 

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