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Dumping Syndrome: How Can It Be Avoided?

What is Dumping Dyndrome?

Dumping syndrome (or rapid gastric emptying) is a condition where food, especially sugar, is quickly ‘dumped’ from your stomach into your small intestine without being digested.

What Causes Dumping Syndrome?

The condition can develop after weight loss surgeries such as a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve.

During normal digestion, your pancreas makes enzymes to break down sugars, fats and starches and hormones to help regulate your blood sugar and appetite and tell your stomach when to empty. That all happens while your food makes its slow journey from your stomach and through your lengthy digestive tract.

Bariatric surgery changes your stomach and sometimes also your digestive tract. Some types of food may move too quickly from your stomach to your intestine, prompting your body to release extra hormones and fluids. That causes early dumping syndrome which strikes within 30 minutes of eating.

The extra hormones in your body may prompt your pancreas to release too much of another hormone: insulin. That excess insulin can lead to low blood glucose 1-3 hours after you eat, causing the symptoms of late dumping syndrome.

What Are The Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome?

There are two types of dumping syndrome: early and late.

Early Dumping Syndrome

Early dumping syndrome usually develops within 30 minutes of eating. Digestive symptoms include:

  • Feeling uncomfortably full and bloated
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • A growling or rumbling tummy.

In addition, you may feel:

  • Faint or lightheaded
  • Tired
  • Clammy
  • Flushed on your face, neck or chest
  • A racing heartbeat.

Late Dumping Syndrome

Late dumping syndrome happens 1-3 hours after eating and is caused by low blood sugar.

You might:

  • Feel faint, lightheaded, shaky, jittery, weak or tired
  • Have a fast heartbeat
  • Find it hard to concentrate
  • Be sweating.

How Can You Avoid Dumping Syndrome?

Many people are able to relieve dumping syndrome by making simple changes to their eating habits.

Diet-wise, you can try:

  • Eating more protein, fibre and fat
  • Eating fewer carbs – and focus on complex carbs (wholegrains, fruits, veggies) not simple sugars such sweets and biscuits
  • Avoiding milk and milk products
  • Adding thickening agents like pectin or guar gum to your food.

Changing the way you eat can also help.Try eating 6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger ones and delay drinking until 30 minutes after your meal. Lying down after eating can also help to slow the food’s progress through your body and so avoid dumping syndrome.

How Can We Help?

We’re here to help you live your best life after bariatric surgery. That includes enjoying your meals without fearing dumping syndrome at every bite.

Our dietitian is happy to help you develop new eating habits and nutritious meal plans.

If changing your eating habits doesn’t help, we can also prescribe various medications to help manage dumping syndrome.

So please don’t suffer in silence. Come and see us instead.

Disclaimer

All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.

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