Dumping syndrome

If surgery has changed the normal structure of your stomach, partially digested food and/or food containing high amounts of simple sugar, such as cordial, can go into the small bowel too quickly. This may cause cramps, nausea, racing heart, sweating, bloating, diarrhoea or dizziness. This is called dumping syndrome.

Symptoms usually begin 15–30 minutes after eating. Sometimes symptoms occur 1–2 hours after a meal. These are called late symptoms, which tend to cause weakness, light-headedness and sweating, and are usually worse after eating foods high in sugar.

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How to manage dumping syndrome

  • Eat small meals throughout the day. Chew your food well.
  • Eat slowly so your body can sense when it is full.
  • Keep a record of foods that cause problems and avoid them. Surgery may have impaired your ability to absorb or tolerate certain foods, such as those containing lactose,
    fructose or gluten.
  • Talk to a dietitian, who can help you work out how to change your meals to reduce the symptoms.
  • Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar, e.g. cordial, soft drinks, cakes and biscuits.
  • Eat starchy food, e.g. pasta, rice or potato.
  • Eat meals high in protein, e.g. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, and legumes/beans.
  • Drink between meals rather than at mealtimes.
  • Symptoms usually improve over time. If they don’t, ask your doctor for advice about medicines that may help.

This information was last reviewed in September 2017
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