Do you feel full after having a stomach-related surgery? The dumping syndrome may cause that sensation. Dumping syndrome is a set of effects that can develop post-surgery to remove all or a part of the stomach or, to bypass your stomach after surgery in order to help you lose weight or after esophageal surgery.
The syndrome refers to a condition in which our esophagus or stomach starts moving (dumping) the food we eat too quickly into the bowel.
Overview of the Dumping Syndrome
Dumping syndrome is also referred to as ‘rapid gastric emptying’. The symptoms of this condition may vary from mild to severe. You may experience the symptoms shortly or long after having a meal.
The condition is not life-threatening, and the symptoms usually fade with time and with proper diet after surgery . However, certain complications may lead to the need for surgery.
What are the different phases of dumping syndrome?
Dumping syndrome can show both short- and long-term symptoms. Depending on the onset of signs and symptoms, the condition can be classified into two phases: the early and late phases.
The symptoms of the early phase are usually seen within two to three hours of a meal. On the other hand, the late phase symptoms are seen three hours after a meal.
What are the major symptoms of dumping syndrome?
The symptoms of dumping syndrome usually present after having meals post-surgery. There can be early and late symptoms. Some of the common signs of the early phase of the condition include:
- Bloated feeling
- Abdominal cramps
- Rapid heart rate
Some common symptoms of late-phase dumping syndrome include:
- Rapid heart rate
Some individuals have both early and late symptoms. And, dumping syndrome can develop years after the surgery.
When to see a doctor for dumping syndrome?
Whether you have had a surgery or not, visit your doctor if you have any of the above signs and symptoms for a prolonged period. Also, you need to see a doctor if dietary changes do not help alleviate the symptoms or if you are losing large amounts of weight.
You can visit any of the nearby branches of the Apollo Hospitals for the best medical services and treatment.
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What are the causes of dumping syndrome?
Any stomach-related surgery can affect food movement in the dietary tract. This can lead to rapid and abnormal dumping of food to the small intestine causing the dumping syndrome. Meals that are high in sugar and carbohydrates worsen the symptoms of the condition.
Another cause of the condition is post-surgery stretching of the intestines. Quick expansion and contraction of the intestines lead to dumping syndrome.
What are the risk factors associated with dumping syndrome?
The only major risk factor of dumping syndrome is gastric surgeries. Gastric surgeries alter the shape and functioning of the stomach. This leads to an incorrect functioning of the digestive tract causing rapid dumping of food into the intestines. Some common gastric surgeries that are primary risk factors for the condition include:
Gastrectomy. It is a surgical procedure to remove a small part of or the entire stomach.
Gastric Bypass Surgery. Gastric Bypass surgery is an efficient way of treating morbid or severe obesity. During the procedure, doctors separate a small portion of the stomach. This small part is then directly attached to the small intestine. This results in a loss of appetite and, thereby, tackles obesity.
Esophagectomy. Esophagectomy is a process to remove a portion of or the entire esophagus (the food pipe that connects your mouth to the stomach).
What is the treatment for dumping syndrome?
The early and some of the late symptoms of dumping syndrome will resolve on their own with time (usually around two to three months). You can try some dietary changes to reduce the symptoms and ease any discomfort. However, if dietary changes do not help or your symptoms do not resolve on their own, you might need to talk to your doctor. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend medication or surgery to treat the condition.
Treatment with medications
Medication will always be the first choice of treatment unless immediate surgery is required. Your doctor may prescribe an octapeptide drug that will act like natural somatostatin (a growth hormone) for treating the condition. It is an anti-diarrheal drug that is introduced into the body with an injection.
Some of the common side-effects of this kind of drugs include headache, nausea, and vomiting. It would help if you made your doctor aware of your medication history to reduce the chances of side-effects.
Treatment with surgery
If medication or other conservative approaches are not effective in treating dumping syndrome, then your doctor will suggest surgery. Several surgeries can help treat the condition. These surgeries are usually reconstructive. For instance, if you develop the condition after a gastric bypass surgery, your doctor will reverse it or they may be reconstruction of the pylorus of the stomach .
What are the complications of dumping syndrome?
Dumping syndrome does not have any major life-threatening complications. However, if not treated, the condition can lead to a few minor complications, which can be treated. Some common complications are:
High or low blood pressure. Increased heart rate is a common sign of both the early and late phases of dumping syndrome. Hence, if the condition is left untreated for a long period, it can lead to rapid heart-rate fluctuations and blood pressure variations .
Prolonged dietary problems. Dumping syndrome tampers with the functioning of the dietary tract, which can lead to malnutrition. An ineffective digestive system will result in poor absorption of vital nutrients such as calcium and vitamins. This can then lead to other conditions such as osteoporosis (weakened bones). It can also cause anemia, a medical condition wherein blood hemoglobin goes below the normal level.
Rapid weight loss. As food moves too quickly through the digestive tract, your body will not get the necessary calorie amounts. This can lead to weight loss within a very short period.
How to prevent dumping syndrome?
Some simple lifestyle changes can reduce the chances of developing this complication of gastric surgeries. These lifestyle changes can be useful to both prevent and alleviate the symptoms of dumping syndrome.
Take smaller meals. Avoid eating three larger meals a day. Instead, you can try having frequent but smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
Consume more fluid with meals and less otherwise. The movement of food in the digestive tract is already too quick with this condition; so don’t accelerate it by consuming more water. You can try timing most of your daily fluid intake with your meals. Gradually increase the intake depending on your tolerance.
Have a proper diet. Taking a proper diet is of utmost importance to prevent dumping syndrome. Avoid consuming food such as candies, cookies, cakes, dairy products, and other foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates.
You can increase your intake of a healthy diet rich in fiber supplements like guar gum or methylcellulose. Go for substitutes for sugar, and consume complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates.
Summing it up
Dumping syndrome does not have any major or life-threatening complications. However, it can impact your daily life. Hence, it is best to visit a doctor and get treatment as quickly as possible. Apollo Hospitals offers excellence and expertise in treating complex conditions and complications such as dumping syndrome. You can visit any of the nearest Apollo Hospitals to avail our excellent medical services.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Is dumping syndrome a very common condition arising from stomach surgery?
Dumping syndrome is common with a few gastric surgeries, while it is rare in the case of some others. For instance, it is usually seen after a gastric bypass bariatric surgery but is not as common after other forms of bariatric surgery. On average, every 1 of 10 people develops the syndrome.
- How is dumping syndrome diagnosed?
Dumping syndrome can be diagnosed by a medical history evaluation (especially if you have undergone stomach surgery) and gastric-emptying test. In the gastric emptying test , a radioactive material is added to food to measure how quickly food moves through your stomach.
- Does dumping syndrome affect blood sugar levels?
As the food moves quickly through the digestive tract, the pancreas cannot manage the appropriate release of insulin for glucose breakdown. This leads to fluctuations in the blood sugar levels.