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Bryan Bariatric Advantage
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Avoid the Dumping

A common complication for many bariatric surgery patients is Dumping Syndrome

Written by Ashley Larson, MS, RD, LMNT, Bryan LifePointe dietitian

Whoever came up with the name of this condition was not very creative, because it is exactly what it sounds like! When food, especially sugar and fat, move too quickly through the stomach to the small intestine, it will “dump” out of you, causing diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. When this happens on a regular basis, the result is malabsorption, which leads to malnutrition, dehydration and other abnormalities in your body.

Causes and Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome

There are two rates of dumping syndrome: early and late.

Early dumping syndrome happens 10 to 30 minutes after a meal. This is caused by the rapid movement of fluid into the intestine following a meal or a large amount of food from the stomach. Symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, feeling uncomfortably full or bloated after a meal, sweating, weakness, dizziness, flushing or blushing of the face or skin, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Late dumping syndrome occurs tow to three hours after a meal resulting from rapid movement of sugar into the intestine, which can increase the blood glucose level, causing more insulin to be released. Symptoms of late dumping syndrome include: hypoglycemia, sweating, weakness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, flushing and dizziness.

Tips to Reduce Symptoms

Dumping syndrome might be a common complication we deal with, but we can prevent it and easily treat it. Changing your nutrition and food intake is the first place to start to reduce symptoms.

Changes to make include:

  • Stop drinking liquids 30-45 minutes before you eat, and start drinking again 30-45 minutes after your last bite. (If symptoms continue, may need to increase the amount of time to 45-60 minutes.)
  • Eat five to six small meals a day (at scheduled times with specific calorie intakes) instead of three larger meals.
  • Avoid table sugar and high sugar foods such as candy, syrup, sodas and juice beverages.
  • Increase protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates (oatmeal and whole wheat food items).
  • Avoid foods that contain high amounts of liquid (soups) and increase thickness of food if necessary by adding pectin or guar gum (thickening agents from plant extracts).
  • When you are on bariatric 4 or 5 diets, decrease protein shakes, or thicken them up. Add protein powder to yogurt, oatmeal and other regular textures to avoid the liquid items.
  • Laying down for 30 minutes after meals also may help reduce symptoms.

If you continue to have problems with symptoms after trying these tips, please talk to your health care provider.

Dumping syndrome is not a fun complication to deal with, but following the diet guidelines, eating slower and spacing out liquids between meals (not with meals) can help avoid it! If you are experiencing dumping syndrome often, look at your diet and the foods you are eating and start making changes to reduce the symptoms and stop it completely. Don’t get caught dumping, it can be prevented.

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