Dumping syndrome, also known as rapid gastric emptying, occurs when stomach contents are sent to the small intestine too quickly. This syndrome is usually the result of stomach surgery, though this is not always the case. There are two basic types of dumping syndrome, including "early" dumping and "late" dumping. While early dumping occurs almost immediately following a meal, late dumping occurs two to three hours after a meal.
Bloating, cramping, diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting are all symptoms associated with early dumping. Dizziness, sweating, and weakness are usually related to late dumping. Since the fast elimination of food causes the pancreas to produce excessive amounts of insulin, people who suffer from dumping syndrome are often hypoglycemic.
Due to the fact that dumping syndrome is almost always associated with gastric bypass surgery, this is the first thing that physicians consider when attempting to diagnose a patient. Additional tests, including a barium fluoroscopy and a radionuclide scintigraphy, are also performed. A barium fluoroscopy involves the ingestion of a barium sulfate solution followed by an X-ray. Medical professionals can determine the presence of dumping syndrome if an X-ray reveals the rapid elimination of fluids from the stomach. In most instances, this syndrome can be detected right away.
A radionuclide scintigraphy test involves the ingestion of a radionuclide, also called a radioactive isotope, followed by an X-ray. Once a radionuclide has been ingested, the substance will begin to erode within the stomach area, which results in the release of gamma photons. Medical professionals then use a specialized gamma camera to detect and map areas of the stomach that have been affected by dumping syndrome.
In most instances, dumping syndrome treatment includes a change in a person's diet. Large meals should be avoided, while small meals should be consumed at various points during the day. A dumping syndrome diet is often low in carbohydrates and simple sugars. Beverages, in this instance, should only be consumed in between meals. Fibrous foods can also help to keep rapid dumping at bay. Some people who suffer from severe gastric emptying may also be prescribed various medications, including proton pump inhibitors, octreotide, and cholestyramine.
Following proper diagnosis, most people are able to lead normal lives. By sticking to a balanced diet that includes nutritious foods, people who have rapid gastric emptying syndrome can avoid stomach pain. Those people who cannot find relief after a change in diet, however, may have to undergo certain surgical procedures.