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What is dumping syndrome?

Dumping syndrome occurs after gastric bypass surgery (it rarely happens after other kinds of bariatric surgery). Because of the way the gastric bypass is configured, sugars (and alcohol) are absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. The body reacts to this sugar rush by trying to restore a normal blood sugar level, but it overcompensates, pushing the blood sugar level down too low. We call this dumping syndrome. The symptoms of dumping syndrome are mainly the symptoms of low blood sugar – dizziness, anxiety, sweating and even fainting. As you recover from an episode of dumping, it is not uncommon to experience stomach cramps and diarrhoea. The end result is that you’d probably prefer not to have dumping than to have that bar of chocolate!

Bariatric surgeons see dumping as a positive thing, as it only occurs when you eat too much sugary food – something we are keen you avoid if you want to get good weight loss! It doesn’t happen with small amounts of sweet things, just when you over-indulge.

A similar, but rare complication in those who undergo a gastric bypass is reactive or post-prandial hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). It can be associated with abnormally rapid emptying of the stomach pouch, but most often it happens to those who skip meals. Bariatric surgery causes a rise in the level of certain hormones (chemical signals between the gut and the brain). These hormones switch off your appetite, but also tend to push down your blood sugar level. If you skip meals frequently, you simply don’t have enough ‘fuel in the tank’ to counter-act the blood sugar lowering effect of these gut hormones and keep your blood sugar high enough. You should eat little and often to avoid reactive hypoglycaemia.


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The clinical information expressed in these video clips is for general information only, and not intended to be a substitute for a detailed discussion with your bariatric surgeon. For further information please contact one of our team on 03452 515 515 to discuss your individual case.

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