Living with Dumping Syndrome

If you've had surgery to remove part of your stomach or had gastric bypass surgery to help you lose weight, you may be susceptible to a condition called dumping syndrome. The problem occurs when the undigested contents of the stomach get "dumped" into the small intestine too quickly, causing excess fluid to build in the small intestine. Also called rapid gastric emptying, the problem can cause nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, sweating, faintness, bloating, fatigue, and heart palpitations. Most people with the condition will experience symptoms soon after eating; for others symptoms may not appear for as long as three hours after eating. Although dumping syndrome often improves on its own or after making some dietary adjustments, more severe cases may require medication or surgery.

Know Your Risk Factors

There are several types of stomach surgeries as well as certain medical conditions that may increase your risk of developing dumping syndrome:

  • Gastrectomy: A portion or all of your stomach is removed, including the pylorus, the opening between your stomach and the duodenum and the first portion of the small intestine.
  • Gastroenterostomy or gastrojejunostomy: The stomach is surgically connected to the small intestine bypassing the pylorus. This type of surgery is sometimes used on people who have stomach cancer.
  • Vagotomy: The nerves to the stomach are cut to lower the acid levels produced by the stomach.
  • Fundoplication: This operation is sometimes performed on people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease. Rarely, certain nerves in the stomach are unintentionally damaged during the surgery, resulting in dumping syndrome.
  • Gastric bypass surgery: This procedure treats morbid obesity by surgically creating a stomach pouch that's smaller than the entire stomach, limiting the intake of food.

Some medical conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome


Usually, the symptoms associated with dumping syndrome improve as people adjust their eating habits. Medications are also available to slow the passage of food out of the stomach. If you are experiencing the symptoms of dumping syndrome, talk to your doctor about which treatment would be most effective for you.

Some dietary changes your doctor may recommend include:

  •  Eating smaller meals
  • Avoiding fluids with meals
  • Drinking liquids only between meals
  • Changing your diet to one that includes foods that are low in carbohydrates and protein. (Meeting with a registered dietitian may help)
  • Increasing fiber intake
  • Avoiding alcohol