What is dumping syndrome?

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Dumping syndrome: Overview

Dumping syndrome means some of the foods you eat may empty, or “dump,” into your small intestine very quickly. Dumping syndrome sometimes happens after you’ve had all or part of your stomach removed through cancer surgery or from some kinds of weight-loss surgery. You’ll probably feel full quickly after eating because your stomach has less room for food.

Dumping syndrome can make you feel faint, shaky, and sick to your stomach, and may give you diarrhea. It can also make it hard for your body to get enough nutrition. Dumping syndrome can happen within a half hour or 2 to 3 hours after eating.

You may be able to prevent dumping syndrome by being careful about what you eat. If your dumping syndrome is severe or doesn’t get better with a change in your diet, your doctor may have you try some medicines. Follow your doctor’s directions carefully.

How can you care for yourself when you have dumping syndrome?

  • Eat 6 times a day (such as 3 small meals and 3 snacks). This may help keep you from feeling too full after eating. It may also help you avoid diarrhea.
  • Talk with a dietitian to help you plan menus that pack good nutrition into several small meals.
  • Eat foods that contain protein. Protein is found in red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese. It is also found in beans, nuts, and oats.
  • Eat foods such as noodles, rice, bread, crackers, or fresh fruit.
  • Avoid high-sugar foods such as cakes, cookies, soda pop, dried fruit, pastries, and fruit juices.
  • Drink fluids between, not during, meals. Don't drink liquids within a half hour before eating and up to an hour after eating. Fluids fill up your stomach quickly. They also move food even more quickly into the small intestine.
  • If you often have diarrhea, taking an over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea (such as Imodium) 30 to 60 minutes before eating may help. Take this medicine only if your doctor tells you it's okay.

Dumping syndrome: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms don't improve, or they get worse. Your symptoms may include:
    • Vomiting.
    • Diarrhea.
    • Feeling hot or flushed.
    • Feeling lightheaded.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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