Dumping syndrome is a condition which is characterized by the speedy emptying of the stomach’s content — water, food and most especially sugar — into the first part of the small intestine, referred to as duodenum. It can cause a host of unfavorable symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and weakness, depending on they type of dumping syndrome an individual is suffering from.

Also referred to as rapid gastric emptying, the problem is more common in people who have undergone gastric surgery, such as to have a part of or the entire stomach removed, or to have the stomach bypassed in order to promote weight reduction. Altering the diet can be beneficial for those with dumping syndrome. There are also medications a doctor may recommend. Surgery may be warranted in cases wherein conservative treatment approaches fail to work.

Two Forms of Dumping Syndrome

A couple of dumping syndrome forms occurs, depending on when the problem or its symptoms happen. They are early dumping phase and late dumping phase. Let us tackle some important matters about them:

  • Early dumping syndrome strikes 30 to 60 minutes after having your meal. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms that may last up to an hour. Some of these symptoms include feeling of fullness even after eating only a small meal, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, sweating, flushing, severe diarrhea and increased heart rate. Experts say that early dumping syndrome may go away on its own within 3 months.
  • Late dumping syndrome, on the other hand, occurs 1 to 3 hours after eating. When it happens, you may encounter symptoms such as hunger, increased heart rate, fatigue, sweating, flushing and mental confusion. You may also experience shaking, dizziness and even fainting. Late dumping syndrome drastically affects the blood sugar level — sugar in food moves quickly to the intestine and causes a rise in the amount of sugar in the blood, which triggers the pancreas to release more insulin that results in the sudden drop of blood sugar levels.

Risk Factors

Anyone who undergoes gastric surgery is considered at risk of having dumping syndrome because the medical procedure alters the stomach. A type of gastric surgery called gastrectomy (removal of a part or all of the stomach) is commonly performed on individuals who are battling stomach cancer. There is also what’s known as gastric bypass surgery which is done on individuals who are suffering from morbid obesity, to help them drop unwanted pounds.

Treatment and Diet Recommendations

As mentioned before, early dumping syndrome tends to resolve on its own. Experts say that someone with this stomach condition may recover from it within 3 months. Those who experience extreme symptoms of dumping syndrome despite of some recommended dietary changes (which will be discussed later) may take medications that help control severe diarrhea resulting from the condition.

Surgery is usually warranted if none of the conservative approaches to treating dumping syndrome works. Usually, it is done in order to reconstruct certain parts of the GI tract or to reverse bypass gastric surgery.

Certain dietary changes can be beneficial for those with dumping syndrome. For instance, they should avoid consuming foods and beverages that contain sugar. However, it is possible to use sugar substitutes, according to experts. It’s also a good idea for them to eat small frequent meals, chop up their foods into small pieces, chew their food very well, and avoid taking their meals with fluids. A diet that’s high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates is recommended.

Those with dumping syndrome should stop eating at the first sign of being full. In addition, they should avoid lying down 30 to 60 minutes after eating, although reclining may be done to attain relief from lightheadedness in case it strikes.

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