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What is Dumping Syndrome?

What is Dumping Syndrome?

One of the most common complications following weight loss surgery, especially for people after the gastric bypass and occasionally the sleeve gastrectomy, is dumping syndrome.

In this blog, we will explore what dumping syndrome is, its symptoms, causes, and how to manage it.

What is Dumping Syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a condition that may occur after weight loss surgery. It happens when food gets dumped too fast into the small intestine, causing uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and sweating.

This condition happens when the stomach is no longer able to control how fast food is emptied into the small intestine.

Dumping syndrome can be divided into two types: early dumping, which happens within 15 to 30 minutes of eating, and late dumping, which happens 1 to 3 hours after a meal.

Managing this involves adjusting your diet, including avoiding simple sugars, increasing protein and healthy fats, and eating several small meals throughout the day.

Why Does Dumping Syndrome Happen After Weight Loss Surgery?

Dumping Syndrome is a common occurrence after gastric bypass surgery. The reason behind this is that the stomach reacts differently after surgery. Typically, food passes through the stomach slowly, allowing the body to process it properly.

However, after weight loss surgery, food moves faster through the stomach and into the small intestine. This quick passage of food causes more insulin to be produced, leading to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels, which can cause the symptoms of Dumping Syndrome.

Factors such as the type of surgery, the type of foods consumed, and eating habits can all influence the likelihood and severity of Dumping Syndrome after weight loss surgery.

What Are The Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome?

The symptoms of early dumping typically occur 10-30 minutes after a meal and can include abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, dizziness, or cold sweats.

Late dumping, which occurs 1-3 hours after a meal, may cause low blood sugar, cold sweats, dizziness, weakness, or a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates can worsen these symptoms.

It is important for patients to be aware of the symptoms of Dumping Syndrome and to work with their bariatric care team to develop strategies to manage and reduce these symptoms.

Both types of dumping syndrome can be managed with dietary adjustments, including avoiding sugary and sweet foods, eating smaller meals, and improving protein and fiber intake.

How Do You Avoid Dumping Syndrome After Surgery?

To avoid dumping syndrome, it is important to not drink any liquids with a meal. Have nothing to drink for 15 minutes before a meal, nothing with food, and wait at least 30 minutes after eating to drink liquids again.

Patients can also lay down for 30 minutes after eating to help slow down the gastric emptying process.

High -sugar, high-fat foods and dairy products should be avoided, and smaller meals should be eaten instead of three larger meals. Reading food labels helps guarantee the foods and drinks you are consuming do not have excessive amounts of sugar as well.

Remember, beverages should have less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and foods should have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

By following these tips, patients can avoid or reduce the symptoms of dumping syndrome.

Importance of Drinking Water and Protein Intake

It's crucial for individuals who have undergone weight loss surgery to focus on staying hydrated and getting enough protein each day. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water helps prevent dehydration.

After most surgeries, the body's ability to absorb nutrients changes, making it all the more important to prioritize protein intake to maintain lean muscle mass and promote healing.

Foods high in protein like lean meats, seafood and eggs do not contribute to dumping syndrome. Similarly to non-starchy vegetables and small portions of fruit.

Does Dumping Syndrome Happen In All Weight Loss Surgeries?

It is most commonly seen in patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery. This surgery involves creating a small stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to this pouch, bypassing a large portion of the stomach and small intestine.

The dumping syndrome happens when food quickly passes from the small stomach pouch to the small intestine. Other weight loss surgeries, such as gastric sleeve and duodenal switch, do not usually cause dumping syndrome.

However, all weight loss surgeries require significant lifestyle changes and adherence to dietary guidelines to promote successful weight loss and avoid complications.

Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome

One of the first things to do is to avoid drinking liquids until at least 30 minutes after a meal. Eating six small meals each day can be helpful in maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. It also helps the body digest food gradually.

Lying down for 30 minutes after a meal can control symptoms, while choosing complex carbohydrates (whole wheat/whole grain) and cutting out foods high in simple carbohydrates (sugar) is also helpful.

Foods high in protein and healthy fats should be added to every meal, and dairy foods should be avoided if they trigger symptoms. Especially for those with lactose intolerance.

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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