Dumping Syndrome Symptoms: What Are Its Causes And Prevention?

Dumping syndrome pertains to group of symptoms that are commonly encountered after gastric surgery. It usually occurs after a part of stomach or complete stomach is surgically removed. Dumping syndrome can also occur after gastric bypass surgery performed for weight reduction.

The symptoms include abdominal bloating, vomiting, stomach cramps, rapid heart rate, fatigue, diarrhea and feeling lightheaded.

They can be mild to severe but often recede as time passes. The condition is not life threatening.

In the beginning after gastric surgery, the patient may find it difficult to adjust with the troublesome symptoms. But by making certain changes in diet dumping syndrome can be easily controlled. In fact dumping syndrome acts as a deterrent from eating sugary and sweet food which is responsible for weight gain.

What Causes Dumping Syndrome?

In normal circumstances, the contents of stomach move further down into the intestine at a controlled rate. This gives the time for pancreas, liver and stomach juices to act upon the food so that its absorption becomes easy in the intestine. However, in dumping syndrome the food from stomach is dumped abnormally fast into the intestine without getting properly processed in the stomach.

This happens commonly when the opening between stomach and duodenum (first part of small intestine) is removed during gastric surgery. This opening is called pylorus; it acts as a control valve between stomach and small intestine. The gastric content that you eat literally gets dumped into the small intestine. For this reason the name “Dumping syndrome”.

The bad effects are experienced due to sudden release of gastric juices and sudden rise of insulin level due to sudden surge of sugar.

Dumping syndrome generally occurs after stomach surgery. It is also seen when the Vagus nerve which is responsible for emptying of stomach content into the intestine is damaged. The syndrome is well known among patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery for treating morbid obesity.

The susceptibility of dumping syndrome increases in people who have diabetes and Zollinger  Ellison syndrome.

Symptoms Of Dumping Syndrome

Symptoms of dumping syndrome can be elicited few days after surgery is performed. They can be described in two stages, the early stage and late stage symptoms. The early stage symptoms begin as soon as 15 to 30 minutes after meals. While late stage symptoms may begin as late as 3 hours.

Early stage symptoms: these symptoms generally last for an hour or even less.

  • Patient feels his stomach is full, even after eating few morsels.
  • Complaint of cramps in stomach soon after eating.
  • Vomits out what he has eaten.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Profuse sweating all over body.
  • Heart beats rapidly.
  • Patient has flushed face.
  • Feeling lightheaded.

Symptoms of late phase include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confused state of mind.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Palpitation of heart.
  • Hunger feeling

Preventing Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is not life threatening but it is debilitating problem. When the condition is severe it may lead to extreme weight loss, malnutrition and anemia. However, the condition can be prevented and greatly reduced with proper diet and lifestyle management in patients who have been operated for gastric surgery.

  • Eat small meals. Eat small meals five to six times in a day instead of three large meals.
  • Avoid sugar and sweets and honey.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid drinking fluids half an hour before and after meals and also during the meals.
  • Chew your food properly and do not eat in hurry.
  • Avoid consuming too much of dairy products.
  • Few people may not tolerate acidic foods. They should avoid citric fruits, pickles, tomatoes etc.
  • Eat foods that are low in carbohydrate or eat foods that are complex carbohydrates such as grains and vegetables.
  • Fiber supplements are found to be effective. They are Psyllium, guar gum, and pectin containing foods. They have properties that delay the absorption of sugar (carbohydrates) from the intestine.
  • Take iron and calcium supplements.
  • Recline after eating. This will slow down the movement of food and also help to prevent lightheaded feeling.

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