Dumping Syndrome After Gastric Bypass Surgery

What is dumping syndrome?

After surgery, the size of your stomach is much smaller.  It is reduced from the former football size down to the size of an egg.  It cannot hold as much food and fluids as you ate at meals before surgery and it cannot regulate the food entering the intestine.  When you eat a regular size meal now, the food in the stomach may be “dumped” too quickly into the bowel.  In addition, when sugars that you have eaten are dumped into the bowel, they may act like sponges.  They rapidly absorb water from the body in the intestine.

What are the signs of dumping syndrome?

A person with dumping syndrome begins to feel weak, dizzy and flushed about 30 minutes after eating.  Cramping, pain, nausea, diarrhea or sweating may occur.  Lying down for 30 to 60 minutes helps to slow down the stomach emptying and the signs begin to go away.  If they do not, call a doctor or nurse.

How can I prevent dumping syndrome?

Avoid sugar and sweets.

After gastric reduction surgery, sugar and sweets tend to enter the bowel too quickly. This can lead to diarrhea.

    • Limit combined intake of sugars and sugar alcohols to 5 grams per meal.
    • Sugar substitutes such as Splenda, Sweet‘N Low, Equal, Stevia and Sweet One may be used in place of sugar.

Eat small meals frequently.

Small meals will make you feel full and are easier to digest.

    • Eat 3 small meals each day.
    • Keep portion sizes small.  For example, at meals eat 1 ounce of meat, ¼ cup of vegetables and ¼ cup of unsweetened fruit or starch.
    • Eat slowly. Cut foods into pieces smaller than a dime.  Chew food thoroughly.
    • When you first begin to feel full, stop eating. Never force yourself to finish a meal. Let your stomach be the guide.

Keep meals dry.

    • Do not drink with meals.  Drinking fluids at meals has the same effect as eating large amounts of foods. It may cause dumping syndrome.
    • Count soups, broths and foods that are liquid at room temperature such as ice and sugar-free Jell-o as part of your fluid at meals.
    • Do not drink for about ½ hour before or ½ hour after eating meals.
    • Throughout the day drink more than 4 cups water or other sugar-free, decaffeinated, noncarbonated beverages.  This will help prevent dehydration which can occur easily   and lead to serious problems.
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