Dumping Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Complication, Treatments And Lifestyle
Dumping syndrome is a group of symptoms that are most likely to develop if you’ve had surgery to remove all or part of your stomach, or if your stomach has been surgically bypassed to help lose weight. Also called rapid gastric emptying, dumping syndrome occurs when the undigested contents of your stomach move too rapidly into your small bowel. Common symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea.
Most people with dumping syndrome experience symptoms soon after eating. In others, symptoms may occur one to three hours after eating. Some people experience both early and late symptoms.
Symptoms of dumping syndrome are most common during a meal or within 15 to 30 minutes following a meal. They include:
Feeling of fullness
Heart palpitations, rapid heart rate
Signs and symptoms also can develop later, usually one to three hours after eating. This is due to the dumping of large amount of sugars into the small intestine (hyperglycemia). In response, the body releases large amounts of insulin to absorb the sugars, leading to low levels of sugar in the body (hypoglycemia). Symptoms of late dumping can include:
Heart palpitations, rapid heart rate
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, such as when the opening (pylorus) between your stomach and the small intestine (duodenum) has been removed during an operation.
The pylorus acts as a brake so that stomach emptying is gradual. When it’s removed, stomach material dumps rapidly into the small intestine. The ill effects of this are thought to be caused by the release of gastrointestinal hormones in the small intestine, as well as insulin secreted to process the sugar (glucose).
In people with severe cases of dumping syndrome, marked weight loss and malnutrition may occur. Sometimes people who lose a lot of weight may also develop a fear of eating, related to the discomfort associated with the rapid dumping of undigested food. They may also avoid outdoor physical activity in order to stay close to a toilet. Some have difficulty keeping a job because of their chronic symptoms.
Most cases of dumping syndrome improve as people learn to eat better for the condition and as the digestive system adjusts. There’s a good chance that changing your diet will resolve your symptoms. If it doesn’t, your doctor may advise medications or surgery to address the problem.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Here are some dietary treatment strategies that your doctor may recommend and that you can do on your own. They can help maintain good nutrition and minimize your symptoms.
Eat smaller meals. Try consuming about 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. Limit your intake of foods and drinks with high sugar content. Milk contains a natural sugar — lactose — which may cause dumping symptoms. A small serving (half a cup) of milk, cheese or yogurt is tolerable to many people. Consume more protein-rich foods such as meat, fish and chicken. Including fat with a meal — for example, margarine, mayonnaise or oil — adds calories and may help dumping symptoms. It may help to see a registered dietitian.
Chew well. Chewing food thoroughly before you swallow can ease digestion.
Increase fiber intake. Psyllium, guar gum and pectin in food or supplements can delay the absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine. Pectin is found in many fruits, such as peaches, apples and plums.
Stay away from acidic foods. Tomatoes and citrus fruits are harder for some people to digest.
Use low-fat cooking methods. Prepare meat and other foods by broiling, baking or grilling.
Consume adequate vitamins, iron and calcium. These can sometimes become depleted following stomach surgery. Discuss this nutritional issue with a dietitian.
Lie down after eating. This may slow down the movement of food into your intestines.
Even with dietary changes, you may continue to experience symptoms associated with dumping syndrome.