Dumping Syndrome describes a constellation of symptoms that occurs when food is emptied too quickly from the stomach, filling the small intestine with undigested food that is not adequately prepared to permit efficient absorption in the small intestine.
Dumping syndrome is most commonly seen after a gastrectomy – the surgical removal of all or part of the stomach, usually for ulcer disease. It is now recognized that other types of patients, including those with symptoms suggestive of functional dyspepsia, may have rapid gastric emptying.
The symptoms of dumping syndrome include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, dizzy spells, weakness and cold sweats either with or after eating. The symptoms are often divided into “early” symptoms which begin during or right after a meal. These include nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, dizziness, and fatigue. Late dumping symptoms occur 1-3 hours after eating and include hypoglycaemia, weakness, sweating, and dizziness. People with dumping syndrome often have both types of symptoms.
The diagnosis of dumping syndrome is based primarily on the development of symptoms in a patient with a history of stomach surgery. Tests may be needed to exclude other conditions that have similar symptoms. These tests may include blood tests, upper endoscopy, and/or gastric emptying test. Gastric emptying demonstrates rapid stomach emptying, especially in early scans taken one half and one hour after eating the test meal which shows nearly complete stomach emptying.
Management of dumping symptoms involves dietary changes, and at times, the use of medications. A change in diet is tried in most cases as the initial treatment. In moderate to severe cases, medications are taken to slow the stomach emptying and movement of food in the GI tract. Rarely, doctors recommend surgery.
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