Dumping syndrome is a condition that can develop after gastric bypass surgery and occurs when food moves too quickly from the stomach into the intestines.
Dumping syndrome after gastric bypass surgery can cause uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms, such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
Patients who suffer from dumping syndrome typically experience a variety of symptoms that range in length and severity. While dumping syndrome is difficult to cope with, it can be managed and even prevented with a complete change in diet.
What is Dumping Syndrome?
During gastric bypass surgery, portions of the stomach are removed to induce weight loss. As a result, some patients may not be able to process food properly, which may cause food to “dump” into the small intestine too quickly.
Instances of dumping often occur more frequently when specific types of foods are consumed. These include fried foods, dairy products, foods that contain sugar, and specific types of fatty products.
Early Phases of Dumping Syndrome
There are two phases of this syndrome – the early phase and the late phase. During the early phase, patients may experience symptoms as early as 30 to 60 minutes after a meal.
Early symptoms of dumping syndrome can include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- A feeling of fullness (even after eating small portions)
- Abdominal cramping
Early symptoms can be very uncomfortable and may be a sign of more symptoms to come.
Late Phases of Dumping Syndrome
The late phases of dumping syndrome often occur one to three hours after a patient eats. Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sweating or flushing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feelings of hunger
- Passing out
The late phases of this syndrome generally occur due to severe upward spikes in blood sugar levels.
It’s important to note that if you’re exhibiting signs of dumping syndrome, such as rapid heartbeat, confusion, or fainting, you should never try to “ride it out.” You’ll be putting yourself at unnecessary risk.
Call emergency medical services right away.
How to Prevent Dumping Syndrome?
While seemingly unavoidable, dumping syndrome can be circumvented by completely transforming your diet.
All gastric bypass surgery patients are advised to cut cookies, sodas, sugary fruit drinks, sweet breads, cakes, alcohol, and the vast majority of dairy products from their diet.
Instead, your diet should be supplemented by complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread and vegetables. Fiber supplements are also recommended, as fiber improves your ability to digest your food properly and take healthy bowel movements.
It’s also essential that you keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by drinking water which can also help with digestion.
Treatment for Dumping Syndrome
If you’re experiencing symptoms, your best course of action would be to see your bariatric surgeon or primary care physician. As previously noted, changing your diet will likely resolve your symptoms.
Let’s look at a few tips on how you can adjust your diet to minimize the possibility of experiencing symptoms of dumping syndrome.
1. Chew your food carefully
This may sound like common sense, but it’s important that bariatric patients thoroughly chew their food.
Large pieces of food that make their way into your digestive system can cause complications that could lead to dumping syndrome. To be safe, consider getting into the habit of cutting your meals into tiny pieces.
2. Lie down after eating
By lying down after eating, you can slow the movement of food into your intestines.
By slowing the process of food traveling from your stomach into your intestines, you can digest the food more thoroughly and decrease the chances of experiencing symptoms of dumping syndrome.
3. Cut out alcohol completely
Bariatric patients will often learn early on that one of the things that must be cut from their diets is alcohol.
Not only can alcohol increase their ability to experience dumping syndrome, but some patients may get drunk faster due to the changes made to their bodies during surgery.
4. Avoid fluids with your meals
Liquids should only be consumed between meals and should be avoided 30 minutes before eating and 30 minutes after eating.
Most bariatric surgeons will give their patients advice on when it’s appropriate to consume liquid and how much they should drink in a single sitting.
5. Stay away from acidic foods
Acidic foods, such as citrus foods and tomatoes, aren’t easy to digest for everyone. More likely than not, this may cause issues for a bariatric patient though this varies case by case.
6. Turn to low-fat cooking methods
Learn to prepare your meals by grilling, broiling, and baking as opposed to frying.
7. Increase your fiber intake
We already mentioned adding fiber supplements to your diet, but it bears repeating to drive home the fact that increasing your fiber intake can significantly improve your ability to digest food.
Speak to your bariatric surgeon to learn which fiber-rich foods and supplements you should add to your diet.
8. Keep away from foods that are extremely hot or extremely cold
Temperature can act as a trigger to dumping syndrome. Eating warm meals is the safest bet.
Olde Del Mar Surgical is Here to Help
Be mindful that even with dietary changes, you may still experience dumping syndrome. If that’s the case, surgery may be the only option left to fix the issue.
However, the vast majority of bariatric patients are able to overcome and outright avoid dumping syndrome by making the appropriate changes to their diet. With the right guidance, you can join thousands of patients who have successfully undergone surgery and now live more enjoyable healthier lives.
Olde Del Mar Surgical can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Our professional team will be there with you every step of the way. With our guidance and management, we can help you avoid the symptoms of dumping syndrome as you focus on losing weight and improving your health.