Before and after bariatric surgery, there are possible complications you should be aware of—one of which is dumping syndrome.
Dumping syndrome can range in symptoms and is most common in patients with gastric bypass. It has been found to occur in 10-75% of gastric bypass patients, as well as in 33% of gastric sleeve patients2. The cause of dumping syndrome tends to be a self-inflicted complication. When high-sugar foods are consumed, they tend to bypass the stomach undigested, which causes a reaction in your small intestines, drawing in water. This fluid shift is what is known to cause the first stage of dumping, also known as early dumping1.
Early dumping syndrome typically occurs within the first hour after food consumption. Symptoms of this stage can range from diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, and high heart rate2. It is important to note you may not experience all these symptoms. Just having one of them is typically uncomfortable enough to make one avoid that food in the future.
Late dumping syndrome is also known as reactive hypoglycemia. This can occur anywhere from 1-3 hours after eating. The symptoms of this stage are very similar to that of low blood sugar. Late dumping occurs when your body has an increased release of insulin, which results in hypoglycemia2. During this stage, you can feel shaky, sweaty, extremely fatigued, and weak.
Prevention of dumping syndrome can be simple, but that's not a guarantee. The first step in prevention is diet modification. For mild cases, it's recommended to not consume fluids for at least 30 minutes after a solid meal, avoid simple sugars, eat small amounts 6 times a day, and avoid milk and dairy products3. If a case is more severe, or if you are not responding to diet modification, there are alternative measures that can be taken, including medication and/or surgical interventions2. Of course, if you are (or think you are) experiencing dumping syndrome, it is always best to contact your surgical team. They will be your best coach on how to combat this.
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