Dumping Syndrome

What is Dumping Syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a condition in which food travels too quickly and uncontrolled from the stomach to the intestines. It typically appears within a half hour after eating, a condition called early dumping syndrome. Other times, it may take a couple of hours and is classified as late dumping syndrome. Eating foods with refined sugar makes the occurrence of dumping syndrome more likely, as can ingesting certain fats, fried foods, and dairy products.

Any type of surgery that involves the stomach can cause the condition. Such operations are usually done to treat obesity but are also used in cases of stomach cancer and some other medical issues. After gastric surgery, the digestive system sometimes has difficulty performing its normal tasks. This occasionally causes food to move to the small intestine while it is still undigested, and it is unable to be properly absorbed.

What are the Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome?

Early dumping syndrome is the most common form of this disorder, although some patients may experience symptoms of both early and late types.

Early dumping syndrome symptoms

Late dumping syndrome symptoms

  • Hunger
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Flushing
  • Shakiness
  • Fainting
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness

Dumping Syndrome Causes

In most cases of dumping syndrome, the main cause is a complication that arises after stomach surgery. Any type of surgery that is done on the stomach can result in this condition. It can also occur after the esophagus is removed. These surgeries can result in the gastric juices of the stomach, along with any food in it, being moved too quickly into the small intestine. One of the most common surgeries that can cause dumping syndrome is gastric bypass surgery.

Other stomach surgeries that can lead to this condition are treatments for stomach cancer and a variety of weight-loss surgeries performed on the stomach. As many as half of all those who have abdominal surgery will develop dumping syndrome as a result. It often develops when the duodenum is removed or accidentally damaged during the surgery. For many patients, the condition begins a few days post-surgery when they go back to a regular diet. When the small intestine is stretched, this can cause the early stages of this condition. The intensity of the condition generally depends on how much of the stomach has been removed or bypassed.

How is Dumping Syndrome Treated?

Early dumping syndrome usually resolves on its own within a few months. In the meantime, making some adjustments to the patient’s diet can help control it.

The best form of management is to avoid eating foods with high sugar content – or dairy, fatty, or fried foods, if that is what triggers it. Eating slowly, at regular intervals, and keeping meals small can also be beneficial. If symptoms are severe or cannot be managed with dietary changes, a doctor will likely prescribe anti-diarrheal medications. As a last resort, reconstructive surgery may be an option.

Dumping Syndrome Prevention

The only way to completely prevent dumping syndrome is to avoid any surgery that changes the stomach’s structure. When this isn’t medically possible, there are some dietary changes that can be made to lessen the risk of dumping syndrome. Eating many small meals each day instead of three larger ones can allow patients to avoid taking in too much food all at once.

Eating some protein in each of those small meals can also be helpful. Wait 30 to 60 minutes after eating a meal to drink anything. Avoid or limit foods and drinks with a high level of sugar. Instead, eat foods that are high in soluble fiber and add a serving of fat to each of your meals.

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Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
June 13, 2018