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Understanding Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is a somewhat common problem that primarily affects bariatric patients that have undergone gastric bypass surgery. Dumping occurs when food and water pass through the stomach and into the small intestine too quickly, causing nausea, dizziness, vomiting and general discomfort in the patient. Its symptoms are very similar to low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. It is also called rapid gastric emptying.

Dumping syndrome usually occurs when a weight loss surgery patient consumes high-fat, high-sugar foods, which should be avoided after weight loss surgery and especially after gastric bypass. Dumping can occur immediately after a meal, a few hours after a meal, or both. The unique anatomical changes created during a gastric bypass – the removal of the pyloric valves of the stomach, makes dumping much more common and severe in bypass patients. However, dumping can occur in gastric sleeve patients as well.

Avoiding Dumping Syndrome

The best way to avoid dumping syndrome is to follow your postoperative diet plan closely. It is also important to avoid drinking during a meal, especially carbonated beverages, as this may worsen the effects of dumping syndrome. Drink no sooner than 45 minutes before or after meals. Also, be sure to avoid excessively large meals and those that are high in fat and sugar.

The Unlikely Benefit of Dumping Syndrome

Many patients believe that dumping syndrome is necessarily a bad thing, that it is detrimental to their lifestyle and limits their enjoyment of food. However, it does have a very significant benefit. It is self-limiting. This means that when dumping syndrome occurs, patients are given a very real physiological negative response to the foods they should not be eating. After all, if patients follow their postoperative diet closely, and do not eat exceptionally large meals, they will not experience dumping syndrome.

While, dumping is very uncomfortable, it is not a life-threatening disorder. However please contact 9-1-1 if you believe you are having a medical emergency. We can usually diagnose dumping syndrome by evaluating the symptoms and understanding your eating habits after surgery.

Should you wish to learn more about dumping syndrome and other risks, considerations and unlikely benefits of gastric bypass surgery, please contact our office.