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Life After Gastric Bypass: Dumping Syndrome

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Updated February 15, 2014

Candy

Candy isn't such a sweet treat for WLS patients.

Photo © [2008] Jupiterimages Corporation

What is Dumping Syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a problem that occurs in some patients after having gastric bypass surgery. It is the result of food passing too quickly into the small intestine. It is typically induced when the patient eats certain foods, such as sweets or certain carbohydrate sources (such as simple carbohydrates like sugar and some starches). It can also occur as a result of eating too much at one time.

 

What are the Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome?

Some symptoms of dumping syndrome include:
  • nausea or queasiness
  • a sense of fullness accompanied by discomfort
  • cramping
  • diarrhea
  • general weakness
  • profuse sweating
  • vomiting
  • heart palpitations (an increase in heart rate)

 

Treatment for Dumping Syndrome

Dietary changes are a very effective treatment for dumping syndrome. Keeping a food diary of your food intake and your reaction to those foods will help you assess which tend to cause symptoms. Make a note of problematic foods and avoid them as often as possible.

 

Common Foods to Avoid

Some typical foods those suffering from dumping syndrome may need to avoid include:

 

  • pancakes with syrup
  • sweetened cereals
  • fruit punch
  • milkshakes
  • sweet pickles
  • ice cream
  • candy
  • cookies
  • honey

Additional Dietary Changes

Eating smaller meals -- about six a day -- is typically helpful. Abstaining from drinking liquids during your meals is advised for all gastric bypass patients, but it is especially important to preventing the symptoms of dumping syndrome. You should always wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before drinking any liquids.

Some patients find avoiding foods that are either very hot or very cold may help prevent dumping syndrome. Consuming milk and dairy products has also been found to lead to symptoms. So it is a good idea to eliminate these foods and assess your symptoms after several days.

 

When do Symptoms Subside?

Usually the symptoms associated with dumping syndrome will subside in about an hour. Most patients find the symptoms are alleviated after they lie down for a while. (This is due to the fact that lying down slows the process of food being emptied from the stomach.)

 

Other Options

Prescription drug treatments may be an option for those patients who do not experience any relief by making dietary changes. Talk to your doctor if you continue to experience symptoms regularly despite making the recommended changes.

 

Sources:

Shah, Shimul, MD. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia: Dumping syndrome. 4 Feb 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2008.

Ukleja, Andrew, MD. Dumping syndrome. Nutrition Issues in Gastroenterology, Series #35. Feb 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2008.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dumping Syndrome Diet. Retrieved 30 June 2008.

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