Dumping syndrome- Reality or myth?

Dumping syndrome- Reality or myth?

Many people talk about dumping syndrome for being a reality or a myth. And the truth is that it is an actual disease. Another name for this disease is rapid gastric emptying and it mainly occurs due to the extremely fast movement of food from the stomach to the duodenum.

Some of its common symptoms are abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and nausea and these are worse after eating. The only treatment for dumping syndrome is “care”. One can treat it with dietary and lifestyle changes. However severe cases need medicinal treatment.

Read this article and know about what causes dumping syndrome, how to diagnose dumping syndrome and how to treat it.

What causes dumping syndrome and who is at risk?

Usually, in healthy people, it takes several hours’ food to pass from stomach to intestine. When an individual is suffering from dumping syndrome, this time becomes shorter. As food doesn’t stay in the stomach for long, the food quickly passes to the first part of the intestine called duodenum.

When the stomach acts faster than normal, it leads to an uncomfortable condition where the person experiences bloating, nausea or diarrhea. Sometimes dumping syndrome also shows up when the body is releasing enormous amounts of insulin. For those who don’t know, insulin is a natural hormone that is responsible to absorb the sugar from food. When insulin is in a high amount, it lowers the blood pressure.

Anyone who had stomach surgery is at more risk of dumping syndrome. The condition is extremely prevalent in people who had surgically removed some part of the stomach.

Other than this, some more surgeries are also a risk factor for developing dumping syndrome.

Gastrectomy

This surgery removes some or all type of stomach. It is often carried on stomach cancer patients.

Gastric bypass surgery: this is obesity treating surgery in which doctor artificially adds a small pouch in the stomach. It restricts the food intake for the individual.

Esophagectomy: this is a surgery where some part of the complete food pipe is removed. Then doctors use another party of the body to recreate it. It is a treatment surgery for esophageal cancer.

It is difficult to say when would people get dumping syndrome after surgery. Sometimes it takes years for a person to develop it.

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Severity of condition

The dumping syndrome has two stages or phases.

 

  • Early dumping syndrome: where symptoms start to show up right after a person finishes eating.
  • Late dumping syndrome: where symptoms start to show up after a couple of hours of eating.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases believes that nearly 75% of patients of dumping syndrome experience early dumping syndrome symptoms. Only 25% of patients experience late dumping syndrome. Rarely, some people may experience both phases.

Common symptoms of dumping syndrome

The symptoms for dumping syndrome are very generic and they may vary in each case and stage.

Symptoms at early dumping syndrome

Here, symptoms show up right after eating anything, if it is a high sugary meal. Some more signs that show up here are as follows.

 

  • dizziness
  • bloating
  • increased heart rate
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea

Symptoms at late dumping syndrome

These symptoms show up after 2-3 hours of taking a meal. It causes low blood sugar which shows up in many ways such as.

  • Dizziness and tiredness
  • Hunger Pangs
  • Fatigue and stress
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating and skin flushing
  • weakness and fever

There are chances for people to experience the symptoms of both stages.

How to make a diagnosis?

Only a doctor can diagnose dumping syndrome by following ways.

Taking medical history: an important aspect to diagnose dumping syndrome is by taking a complete history of the person. It accounts for the whole family’s medical history of diseases, medication, genetic disorders, etc. some doctors may also keep a scoring system where they add a score for each symptom. Eventually, their diagnosis is based on the overall score.

Oral glucose tolerance test: this is a test that checks the blood sugar level in a suspect. Usually, low blood levels indicate late dumping syndrome and need treatment.

Gastric emptying test: this test helps to track the food path in a person. A doctor gives a radioactive material inside any food to the patient. When he eats it, the food makes all the way to the digestive system and the radioactive material is traceable so it quickly gives an idea of where is it going. On the basis of this, a doctor can check its timing and occurrence of symptoms.

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What is the treatment?

The treatment of dumping syndrome lies in just lifestyle and dietary changes. Both these things help to ease the symptoms of dumping syndrome. Only the extreme cases that are unaffected with lifestyle and dietary changes need medication and proper surgical treatment.

Lifestyle and dietary changes

Following changes may help to reduce the symptoms of dumping syndrome.

  • Do not take large meals, instead, eat five to six small size meals every day
  • Do not overeat and stop eating once feeling full
  • Chew the food properly to aid into digestion
  • Do not drink any liquid before or after food
  • Drink plenty of fluids all day and keep the body hydrated
  • Lay down after a meal for some minutes
  • Prefer eating food that has a high amount of fiber in it
  • Avoid eating food that has a high amount of sugar in it
  • Limit soda and alcohol
  • Do not consume white bread, white rice, and pasta
  • Add up to your protein based foods
  • Limit the dairy products, only use them if they are suitable to stomach
  • Take digestive supplements on the consultation of a doctor

Treatment with medicine

If lifestyle and dietary changes are not helpful a doctor may like to use

octreotide injection on the patient. This drug is anti-diarrheal that helps with the symptoms of dumping syndrome. It also reduces or prevents the insulin release into the blood. Hence it reduces the risk of low blood sugar.

Treatment with surgery

If everything fails and there is nothing that makes a patient better, the doctor may recommend surgery. There are many methods that may help. But a choice of treatment surgery depends upon the previous gastric surgery performed. There are fewer chances of such treatment surgery to be successful.

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Future complications

Dumping syndrome is usually an extreme side effect of gastric surgeries. Such surgeries may also cause problems with nutrient absorption, anemia, osteoporosis, and calcium deficiency.

Final thoughts

Dumping syndrome is not just a disease; it is actually a collection of unwanted symptoms. It is a side effect of ineffective gastric surgery. It is necessary to consult a doctor if a person is experiencing some or all signs of dumping syndrome.

It is also possible for the patient to lose weight due to dumping syndrome. The patients at early dumping syndrome phase may recover within a few months. At this stage, only dietary and lifestyle changes help a lot and surgery or medicine is not generally needed. Only in extreme cases, doctors recommend medicines or surgery.

 

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The author is a Medical Microbiologist and a healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health.

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