Dumping syndrome can happen to anyone, but it is more common in previous patients with gastric bypass surgery. Dumping syndrome, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, occurs when the stomach empties its contents at a rapid pace into the small intestine.
This food is only partially digested, so it causes excess fluid to build up in the small intestine, resulting in diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping, and heart palpitations. There are different causes of dumping syndrome, ranging from the types of foods being eaten and post-surgical complications.
The reason dumping syndrome is more typical in weight loss surgery patients is that the movement of food can be irregular, causing it to be dumped into the small intestine too quickly.
Common Dumping Syndrome Symptoms
The first set of symptoms tend to be common among all patients who have dumping syndrome, as reported by Mayo Clinic. These symptoms include nausea and/or vomiting, stomach cramps, feeling full quickly, diarrhea, dizziness or faintness, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations and flushing of the skin. Others that may come along later are hunger, fatigue, sweating, and confusion.
Early Phase Dumping Syndrome
It may also help to view the symptoms as separated by different phases of dumping syndrome. The first phase occurs about 30-60 minutes after having a meal or snack. The earliest symptoms are feeling full, regardless of how much you are, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping or other stomach pain, flushing, sweating, lightheadedness and having a rapid heartbeat. Early phase dumping syndrome is usually the result of stretching of the small intestine or hormones released into the bloodstream from the small intestine.
Late Phase Dumping Syndrome
Late phase dumping syndrome occurs after it has been 1-3 hours since the last meal. These symptoms can come without early phase symptoms, or added to them. They include flushing and sweating, fatigue, weakness, hunger, rapid heartbeat or palpitations, shakiness, dizziness or passing out, confusion and lack of concentration. Late phase dumping syndrome symptoms are often because of the rapid rise and fall of blood pressure.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
If you are showing any of these signs of dumping syndrome, consult your doctor. After a series of tests are performed, you should have an official diagnosis. To treat it, changing your diet is usually the first step. This includes avoiding foods like sweets, cakes, candies, soda and sweetened juice, pastries, and some bread. You may also be instructed to avoid alcohol and dairy products. Foods you are encouraged to eat are fiber, complex carbohydrates and drinking plenty of water.
By eating smaller snacks throughout the day, not drinking liquids right after eating and stopping your meals once you feel full, you can avoid dumping syndrome. In most cases, dumping syndrome is easy to treat simply by changing your lifestyle, including what, how and when you eat. Make small changes to see if your symptoms start to subside, consulting a doctor if it doesn’t get better.
Many patients, who have had weight loss surgery, assume these symptoms are normal. While dumping syndrome isn’t a serious medical condition in most cases, you should still let your doctor know. Keep in mind what you are eating when choosing fiber-rich foods, fruits, and vegetables over sweets and pastries. Not only will it help to prevent dumping syndrome, but improve the success of your weight loss surgery.