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Gastric surgery helps people lose excessive body weight that’s harming their health. For instance, it reduces the possibility of heart-related conditions and diabetes as well as many other issues including certain cancers. While gastric surgery is beneficial, it does have possible risks, such as dumping syndrome.

If you’ve had gastric surgery in the past, you may wonder “what is dumping syndrome” as well as “how can I treat it.”

What Is Dumping Syndrome and What Causes It

Definition of Dumping Syndrome

What is dumping syndrome?

It’s a condition when food rapidly moves from the stomach to the small intestines. Also referred to as rapid gastric emptying, this condition has two forms:

  • Early dumping syndrome: a condition when dumping occurs 10 to 30 minutes after a meal.
  • Late dumping syndrome: a condition when dumping occurs two to three hours after a meal.

Early dumping is more common, with approximately 75 percent of people suffering from it while late dumping only occurs in about 25 percent of cases. It’s possible for someone to experience both forms simultaneously.

Why Does Dumping Syndrome Occur?

For people who have this condition, your body has difficulty storing food in the stomach and then emptying the remaining particles into the small intestines.

Early dumping stems from fluid moving quickly into the intestines after you introduce a large amount of food into your stomach.

Late dumping, on the other hand, comes from sugar quickly moving into the intestines, which stimulates the pancreas to heighten the amount of insulin in your system. Not only will this possibly cause diarrhea after eating, the sudden increase in insulin causes a quick drop in your blood sugar level, leading to hypoglycemic symptoms. 

Cause of Dumping Syndrome

Besides knowing what dumping syndrome is, you should also know what causes it.

Typically, dumping syndrome arises after surgery to remove part of the stomach, such as gastric bypass. Without all of your stomach, the nutrients in your body move into the small intestines quickly without the stomach processing them. Esophageal surgery could lead to dumping syndrome as well because the procedure alters part of your digestive tract.

It’s thought that you experience symptoms of early dumping syndrome because of the small intestines stretching or because of your intestines drawing water from your blood into your intestines. Another speculation about the cause involves the release of hormones into your bloodstream. Researchers believe the hormones change your blood pressure, resulting in your symptoms.

The late phase may occur because of the rapid change in your blood sugar when you consume simple carbohydrates. 

Sometimes, the foods you eat after you had gastric surgery cause your symptoms. For instance, you might never have symptoms unless you consume high amounts of refined sugar, dairy, fats, or fried foods. 

What Are the Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome?

If you have dumping syndrome, you may suffer from diarrhea after eating. Diarrhea after eating only occurs in people who have early dumping syndrome and stems from food rushing through your digestive tract. Other symptoms of this form include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Uncomfortable full feeling
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Flushing or blushing of the skin
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat

Symptoms of late dumping syndrome may include the following:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Sweating
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Mental confusion or a loss of concentration
  • Flushing
  • Weakness

How Is Dumping Syndrome Treated?

You can take steps to reduce your symptoms a considerable amount by avoiding sweets as much as possible, including:

  • Candy
  • Soft drinks and most juices
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Sweetened bread
  • Pastries

What to Do

Another part of a dumping syndrome diet is to eat more frequent, smaller meals. You should aim for five or six small meals or snacks each day as opposed to three large meals.

Limit the size of the portions of everything you eat. Always cut your food into small pieces and chew them adequately, so you avoid eating too fast or having difficulty digesting your food.

In a dumping syndrome diet, a majority of the calories you consume should consist of proteins. Choose whole grains over foods with simple carbohydrates. The fiber from these foods slows digestion, so your body can absorb the sugar and nutrients more effectively. 

Stop eating as soon as you feel content. 

What Not to Do

Even if you haven’t had a problem with dairy products in the past, you may want to try avoiding them and see if your symptoms lessen in severity.

Avoid eating and drinking together during a meal. Thirty minutes before a meal, you should stop drinking, and you shouldn’t resume drinking any liquids until 30 minutes after a meal.

Limiting the amount of alcohol, or possibly not drinking at all, can reduce your symptoms, as well.

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