Dumping Syndrome after Upper GI Surgery
Some patients suffer from ‘dumping syndrome’ after their surgery. It is one of the effects of having a shorter digestive tract. The food rushes through the system more quickly than it should. The Vagus nerve, that normally controls the speed of the digestion, will often have been cut because of the surgery, and for some patients it takes months for the body to re-train itself to cope with the new system.
a) Early dumping is within 30 minutes of eating. Carbohydrates enter the digestive tract quickly and disturb the osmotic balance (concentrations) causing dizziness, faintness, palpitations, low blood pressure, cramping and diarrhoea. Resting immediately after eating may help.
b) Late dumping normally occurs 2-3 hours after eating or if a meal is missed. It is primarily caused by poorly timed insulin release for the amount of food entering the digestive system and results in feeling faint or sick and shaky. Consuming sugary food may help.
Recommendations for dumping
- Avoid refined carbohydrates, chose lower glycaemic index foods
- Include starchy foods as part of meals
- Small, frequent & regular meals and snacks
- Chew well: eat slowly
- Keep liquids separate for meals
- Dry foods may help
- Loperamide (Imodium) and Creon may help
Should we be eating Low Glycaemic Index Foods to minimise dumping?
Not all carbohydrate foods behave the same way in our bodies, and the Glycaemic Index rates of foods according to how much they affect our blood-glucose levels. So this can become very relevant if you suffer from dumping syndrome or diabetes. Ask your specialist dietician for advice about whether concentrating on low glycaemic index goods might be better for you.
The following table summarises the Glycaemic Index for some common groups of food.
Fruit & Fibre – type
Oat and Wheat Flakes
|Heavy grain bread
|Fibre enriched white bread
Oat meal biscuits
Morning coffee biscuits
Pasta – most types
|Apple, dried apricots, banana,
cherries, Cantaloupe melon,
grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, mango,
orange, peach (canned and fresh),
pear, plum, fruit cocktail.
Apple Juice, grapefruit juice,
pineapple juice (small glass).
Carrots, peas, sweetcorn
Sultanas and raisins
|Baked beans, butter beans, black
eyed beans, chick peas, haricot
beans, kidney beans, lentils, soya
Pearl barley, buckwheat, bulgar
|Some chocolate bars*
e.g. Mars bars
|Low fat ice-cream
* Foods containing relatively high amounts of fat – keep these to a minimum
© The Oesophageal Patients Association