Dumping Syndrome: Gastric Sleeve vs Gastric Bypass More people are committing to bariatric surgery year over year. Research shows that globally, over 580,000 people undergo bariatric surgery annually.
The benefits of this weight loss procedure are overwhelming, with the same research showing that patients successfully get to manage chronic weight-related complications such as diabetes, with some having their conditions transition to remission.
However, there are complications associated with bariatric surgery, particularly gastric sleeve and gastric bypass. The most prevalent one is a dumping syndrome. Let’s break down what dumping syndrome is, its effect, and how you can get treatment.
What is Dumping Syndrome
Dumping syndrome is a medical condition where your stomach empties its contents more rapidly into the small intestine than it should. The condition is also called rapid gastric emptying.
The rapid dumping of food in the small intestine causes discomfort, especially since the food is largely poorly digested. This leads to nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. Dumping syndrome can also cause sudden changes in blood sugar levels.
What Occurs in Dumping Syndrome?
Foods high in fat and sugar are the greatest catalysts of dumping syndrome.
Typically, your stomach should gradually release digested food into the small intestine for absorption. This movement is called “gastric motility” and is controlled by nerves, muscles, and hormone signals that tell the stomach when and how to empty.
If any of these systems are impaired, the gastric motility coordination gets thrown off.
When there’s an impairment, the pyloric valve, responsible for controlling food passage from the stomach down to the intestines, simply dumps everything out before the stomach has finished digestion.
The small intestine is designed to adjust and accommodate this sudden dump of poorly digested food from the stomach. It does this by drawing in extra fluids and releasing excess hormones. These adjustments cause the symptoms most dumping syndrome patients to experience shortly after eating.
Some patients may experience another set of symptoms hours after eating. Changes in blood sugar levels cause this.
Blood sugar levels often fall sharply in patients with dumping syndrome because the small intestine panics and signals the pancreas to release extra insulin to control blood sugar levels after receiving a massive dump of sugar content from the stomach.
A sharp drop in blood sugar levels causes shakiness, faintness, and heart palpitations.
Who’s Prone to Getting Dumping Syndrome?
Research estimates that 20% – 50% of people who’ve undergone gastric surgery experience dumping syndrome. The most affected are individuals who’ve undergone gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgeries that remove or bypass large stomach sections.
Occasionally, the dumping syndrome may occur in individuals suffering from certain gastrointestinal diseases.
Symptoms of Dumping Syndrome
The signs and symptoms of dumping syndrome show up within minutes of eating, typically ten to fifteen minutes. They’re also often triggered by food rich in fruit sugar (fructose) and table sugar (sucrose).
These symptoms include:
· Feeling bloated
· Abdominal cramps
· Rapid heart rate
· Dizziness and lightheadedness
Late dumping symptoms also occur a few hours after the meal, typically one to three hours after eating a high-sugar meal. These symptoms take a while because the body releases insulin to drop blood sugar levels and absorb the sugars entering the small intestine.
Late dumping signs and symptoms include:
· Dizziness and lightheadedness
· Rapid heart rate
A patient can have both early and late dumping symptoms. Moreover, dumping syndrome can develop years after surgery.
How to Diagnose Dumping Syndrome
Doctors diagnose dumping syndrome based on the symptoms. They may also perform extra tests such as gastric emptying or oral glucose tolerance tests to confirm the diagnosis.
How to Treat Dumping Syndrome
The following are steps you can take to reduce the symptoms of dumping syndrome:
· Avoid the following when it comes to foods:
o Sugary foods – These include sugar and other sweets such as sweet drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, sweetened bread, and pastries
o Dairy products and alcohol
o Eating solids and drinking liquids over the same meal. It’s advisable not to drink 30 minutes before and after meals
· Eat the following foods:
o Fiber supplements such as methylcellulose (Citrucel), psyllium (Metamucil or Konsyl), or guar gum (Benefiber)
o Sugar replacements such as Equal, Splenda, or Sweet ‘N Low
o Complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread and vegetables instead of simple carbohydrates such as ice cream and sweet rolls
o Drink more than 4 cups of water or other decaffeinated, sugar-free, non-carbonated beverages daily to prevent dehydration
· Eat five or six snacks or small meals daily
· Chew well before swallowing
· Reclining after eating may reduce lightheadedness
Reduce the Risk of Complications by Using a Qualified Bariatric Surgeon
You can reduce the risk of dumping syndrome by contacting a qualified bariatric surgeon to perform gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery.