All about dumping syndrome
No, dumping syndrome has nothing to do with your ex-boyfriend leaving you. Also called rapid gastric emptying, it refers to food moving too quickly from the stomach into the small intestine. It’s common after surgery to the stomach or oesophagus, including weight loss surgery.
Symptoms of dumping syndrome
There are two types of dumping syndrome: early dumping syndrome (happens around 30 minutes after a meal) and late dumping syndrome (happens 1-3 hours after eating).
Typical symptoms of early dumping syndrome after bypass surgery include:
- feeling bloated,
- abdominal cramps,
- nausea and/or vomiting,
- sweating or flushing,
- rapid heartbeat,
- dizziness or fainting, and
Late dumping syndrome is less common, but may include:
- shaking, dizziness or fainting,
- fatigue or weakness,
- confusion or difficulty concentrating, and
What causes dumping syndrome?
Dumping syndrome is caused when food is ‘dumped’ from the stomach pouch into the small intestine without sufficient time for digestion. In the early phase the small intestine stretches, and water is pulled out of the bloodstream into the small intestine. There is also a release of hormones that can affect blood pressure.
The late phase is caused by excess insulin production, leading to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia).
Certain foods may be more likely to cause dumping than others. Often this is your body telling you these foods aren’t suitable for you after your weight loss surgery! They include:
- cakes, cookies and high sugar muffins,
- pastries and sweetened breads,
- candy and chocolate,
- sweet drinks,
- caffeinated drinks,
- dairy products,
- pepper and chilli sauce,
- gas producing vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage), and
- fatty and fried foods.
Drinking liquids with your meal can also increase the chance of dumping, as it increases the volume of the contents.
Dumping syndrome prevention
One of the simplest ways to avoid dumping syndrome is to avoid the foods that cause it! If there’s no particular pattern it can be a little harder to avoid. Some simple tricks to try include:
- Eating protein with every meal.
- Not drinking liquids 30 minutes either side of a meal.
- Lying down for 30 minutes after eating.
- Eating smaller, more frequent, meals.
- Cutting your food into small pieces and chewing it for longer.
- Choosing more complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain.
- Avoiding high fat and high sugar food and drinks.
- Avoiding very hot or very cold food and beverages.
If these aren’t working it’s important to speak to your care team about what can be done. While it may seem easier to just limit the amount of food you eat, this can cause longer-term problems such as malnutrition.
While dumping syndrome itself is not dangerous, it can feel scary if you’re not expecting it. Talk to the team at AMOS to help with your post-surgery concerns on (08) 8465 6300.
Contributed by Lauren Knight