Managing Dumping Syndrome

Woman holding stomach in pain

Dumping syndrome is a common side effect of gastric surgery that occurs when food moves too quickly from the stomach to the small intestine. Some of the most common symptoms include abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and lightheadedness. Although uncomfortable and alarming, dumping syndrome can typically be treated through basic changes to your diet and lifestyle. However, if your symptoms persist for more than three months, Dr. Liza María Pompa González at LIMARP® in Tijuana, MX, can perform surgery to address the problem. 

What Causes Dumping Syndrome?

Bariatric surgery alters the digestive tract or reduces stomach size. In many cases, it takes some time for the body to adjust to these changes. Dumping syndrome is the result of an inability to regulate the movement of food with these new changes: food is dumped from the stomach into the small intestine before it has finished digesting. It is most often triggered by foods that rapidly absorb water from the body, such as fried food and refined sugars. The specific symptoms you experience will depend on when the food is dumped: early or late in digestion

Early Phase Dumping Syndrome

An early dumping phase usually occurs about 30 to 60 minutes after eating. Symptoms may last for an hour and often include:

  • Abdominal cramping or pain

  • Feeling full, even after consuming a small amount

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Sweating, flushing, or light-headedness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Severe diarrhea

In addition to rapid water absorption, stretching of the small intestine and early hormone release can trigger early phase dumping syndrome. 

Late Phase Dumping Syndrome

Late dumping phase usually occurs one to three hours after eating. Symptoms may include:

  • Flushing or sweating

  • Weakness or fatigue

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Mental confusion

  • Loss of concentration

  • Hunger

This type of dumping syndrome is often caused by a rapid rise and fall of blood sugar levels. Consequently, refined sugars, like those found in barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, and fruit juice, are often responsible for late phase dumping syndrome. 

Controlling the Condition through Diet

Although dumping syndrome symptoms can be alarming, the condition is not life-threatening. Even better, you can control the effects by making changes in what and how you eat. This also has the added benefit of aiding your weight loss.

Some recommendations for managing dumping syndrome include:

  • Avoiding high sugar foods and drinks like candy, pastries, and soda

  • Avoiding simple carbohydrates like white bread or pasta

  • Avoiding alcohol

  • Refraining from dairy products like milk and yogurt

  • Avoiding certain sugar substitutes or foods that are advertised as “sugar-free”

  • Incorporating more whole wheat and grains into your diet

  • Eating more low-fat proteins like turkey and chicken

  • Not eating too much at once

  • Not drinking 30 minutes before or after a meal

  • Chewing food thoroughly

  • Eating fewer, smaller meals throughout the day

Controlling dumping syndrome is important for proper nourishment and safe weight loss. In instances where dumping syndrome cannot be controlled with dietary changes, medication or reconstructive surgery may be necessary. If you are struggling with dumping syndrome, speak with Dr. Pompa about managing it as soon as possible. 

Avoid Unnecessary Discomfort

Your team at LIMARP works hard to prevent dumping syndrome in our patients through extensive patient education and routine check-ups. Learn how we can help you manage dumping syndrome by calling toll-free from the US at (866) 585-3298 or reaching out online.

Toll Free from USA (866) 585-3298