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Dumping Syndrome

It’s not exactly what many of you may think……. but it can be! Often associated with gastric bypass you can actually get it occasionally if you have had a gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy)!

The good news is that it’s uncommon, largely preventable and treatable! Some people think it’s a good thing as it discourages people from eating sweets. It can also cause significant trouble in a tiny proportion of patients. In a randomised controlled trial we have performed recently we confirmed that significant dumping is rare, even in gastric bypass which is good news.

So what is Dumping and what causes it?

Dumping is a syndrome associated with eating sweets or foods high in sugars and simple carbohydrates. It can be unpredictable but becomes more of an issue in patients who eat sweets on a consistent basis.

Dumping is characterised by dizziness, palpitations and can lead to nausea, cramps and diarrhoea. Some people feel overwhelming tiredness or complain of sweating and hunger.

So what’s happening? High calorie simple sugars are entering your upper intestine and this is causing a fluid (water) shift into the gut to dilute the concentrated food. This can cause cramps, nausea and diarrhoea. Soon after the pancreas is sensing a lot of sugar or glucose being absorbed and rapidly responds by secreting insulin in excessive amounts into the blood stream. This overreaction leads to hypoglycaemia as the Insulin drives the glucose level down in the blood. This is where dizziness, feeling faint and palpitations set in.

This can be pretty scary the first time it happens (hopefully the last). Treatment is to have a glucose tablet or something sweet such as a barley sugar just to help get the blood sugar up. So the treatment ironically can fuel the problem. Hence a (logical) disincentive to continue sweet eating.

So what’s the solution? It’s not hard to work out but it’s a difficult scenario for some. ………….Avoid sugar! For those that won’t then they may get into trouble which unfortunately to be honest is self inflicted and self preventable. It’s a challenge to manage for some. I take my hat off to people with a powerful sweet tooth. It takes strength of will to deal with this, something our non sweet toothed comrades don’t comprehend!

If you have a ferocious sweet tooth (like me) then you just need to avoid the stuff.

If you can restrict yourself to the odd sweet here and there then you will be fine.

We will post in the next few days some particular foods to avoid.

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