What is dumping syndrome ?
Dumping syndrome is a condition that can develop after surgery to remove all or part of your stomach or after surgery to bypass your stomach to help you lose weight. Also called rapid gastric emptying, dumping syndrome occurs when food, especially sugar, moves from your stomach into your small bowel too quickly.
Most people with dumping syndrome develop signs and symptoms, such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea, 10 to 30 minutes after eating. Other people have symptoms one to three hours after eating, and still others have both early and late symptoms.
Generally, you can help prevent dumping syndrome by changing your diet after surgery. Changes might include eating smaller meals and limiting high-sugar foods. In more-serious cases of dumping syndrome, you may need medications or surgery.
How common is dumping syndrome ?
Dumping syndrome is common after gastric surgery. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of dumping syndrome ?
Signs and symptoms of dumping syndrome generally occur right after eating, especially after a meal rich in table sugar (sucrose) or fruit sugar (fructose). Signs and symptoms might include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Rapid heart rate
Late dumping signs and symptoms, which occur one to three hours after eating, are due to your body releasing large amounts of insulin to absorb the large amount of sugars entering your small intestine after you eat a high-sugar meal. The result is low blood sugar.
Signs and symptoms of late dumping can include:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Rapid heart rate
Some people have both early and late signs and symptoms. Some people develop dumping syndrome years after surgery.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- You develop signs and symptoms that might be due to dumping syndrome, even if you haven’t had surgery.
- Your symptoms are not controlled by dietary changes.
- You are losing large amounts of weight due to dumping syndrome. Your doctor may refer you to a registered dietitian to help you create an eating plan.
What causes dumping syndrome ?
In dumping syndrome, food and gastric juices from your stomach move to your small intestine in an uncontrolled, abnormally fast manner. This is most often related to changes in your stomach associated with surgery.
Dumping syndrome can occur after any stomach operation or removal of the esophagus (esophagectomy). Gastric bypass surgery for weight loss is the most common cause today.
What increases my risk for dumping syndrome ?
There are many risk factors for dumping syndrome , such as:
- Gastrectomy, in which a portion or all of your stomach is removed.
- Gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y operation), which is performed to treat morbid obesity. It surgically creates a stomach pouch smaller than the stomach, meaning you’re no longer able to eat as much as you once did. It connects the small intestine to this pouch in the form of a gastrojejunostomy.
- Esophagectomy, where all or part of the tube between the mouth and the stomach is removed.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is dumping syndrome diagnosed?
Your doctor may use some of the following methods to determine if you have dumping syndrome.
- Medical history and evaluation. Your doctor can often diagnose dumping syndrome by taking a medical history, particularly if you’ve had stomach surgery, and evaluating your signs and symptoms.
- Blood sugar test. Because low blood sugar is sometimes associated with dumping syndrome, your doctor may order a test (oral glucose tolerance test) to measure your blood sugar level at the peak time of your symptoms to help confirm the diagnosis.
- Gastric emptying test. A radioactive material is added to food to measure how quickly food moves through your stomach.
How is dumping syndrome treated?
Early dumping syndrome is likely to resolve on its own within three months. In the meantime, there’s a good chance that diet changes will ease your symptoms. If not, your doctor may recommend medications or surgery.
For people with severe signs and symptoms unrelieved by dietary changes, doctors prescribe octreotide (Sandostatin) in rare cases. This anti-diarrheal drug, taken by injection under your skin (subcutaneously), can slow the emptying of food into the intestine. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting and stomach upset.
Talk with your doctor about the proper way to self-administer the drug.
Doctors use a number of surgical procedures to treat difficult cases of dumping syndrome that are resistant to more conservative approaches. Most of these operations are reconstructive techniques, such as reconstructing the pylorus, or they’re intended to reverse gastric bypass surgery.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dumping syndrome ?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with dumping syndrome :
- Eat smaller meals. Try eating five or six small meals a day rather than three larger ones.
- Avoid fluids with meals. Drink liquids only between meals. Avoid liquids for a half-hour before eating and a half-hour after eating.
- Change your diet. Eat more protein — meat, poultry, creamy peanut butter and fish — and complex carbohydrates — oatmeal and other whole-grain foods high in fiber. Limit high-sugar foods, such as candy, table sugar, syrup, sodas and juices.The natural sugar in dairy products (lactose) might worsen your symptoms. Try small amounts at first, or eliminate them if you think they’re causi ng problems. You might want to see a registered dietitian for more advice about what to eat.
- Chew well. Chewing food thoroughly before you swallow can aid digestion.
- Sit upright after eating. Don’t lie down for 30 to 60 minutes after you eat.
- Increase fiber intake. Psyllium, guar gum and pectin in food or supplements can delay the absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine.
- Check with your doctor about drinking alcohol.
- Consume adequate vitamins, iron and calcium. These can sometimes become depleted following stomach surgery. Talk to your doctor or dietician about whether you need supplements.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Dumping syndrome. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dumping-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20028034. Accessed August 3, 2017.
Dumping Syndrome. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/dumping-syndrome-causes-foods-treatments#2. Accessed August 3, 2017.
Review Date: August 2, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019