"My experience with Dumping Syndrome" - Ana Cruz, fellow bariatric patient

Did that Dairy Queen frozen treat just give you hot flashes, cold sweats, and send you running for the bathroom? You may have experienced Dumping Syndrome. 

Prior to surgery I read sleevers don’t get dumping syndrome, but was this true? Keep reading to learn more about this peculiar but common occurrence after bariatric surgery.

After surgery I was on clear liquids for 4 days as per my surgeon’s guidelines and didn’t notice any discomfort. After the clear diet, I was cleared for the full liquids diet. (More on preop and post op diets in our other posts on Bariatric Pre and Post Surgery Diet).

I sat on the couch and took tiny sips of my Premier Protein shake. Within a matter of seconds, I felt dizzy. My body was cold and clammy, I was shaking. I felt as if I was having a low blood sugar episode. Then I started to hear my heartbeat as loud as ever in my ears, and my heart rate was elevated. The heart rate jumped from 60 to 120 beats per minute! The intense feeling lasted about 20 minutes and wore me out.

I did not vomit or had the urge to go to the bathroom; but every time I had something solid for the first 6 months post op, I would get these symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms were less or more severe and I had no idea what triggered the episodes. But sleevers don’t dump, right? I still get less severe symptoms sometimes even now almost 2 years post-surgery.

I told my surgeon about my symptoms a week after surgery, and he had no answer for me. My bariatric nurse didn’t know anything about this either. After endless hours of researching online, I came across a forum on the Bariatric Pal website, and a nurse within that forum addressed the topic. According to this nurse, anyone who has bariatric surgery CAN experience dumping syndrome because the Vagus nerve is handled during surgery.

The Vagus Nerve sends signals from the stomach to the brain to let it know we are full; it works like a satiety sensor. The Vagus Nerve has many other functions in the body. For more info, click here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318128.php

Some Foods Triggered the Symptoms More than Others

I noticed that anything remotely sweet triggered these symptoms faster than soft protein foods (fish, tofu, yogurt). It was then I discovered my new sleeve was highly sensitive to sugar. My relationship with sweets has never been the same.

In addition, I had a few “run to the bathroom” dumping episodes after greasier than normal foods. The first time I went to a restaurant a couple of months after surgery and had some dip I regretted it instantly. It was a terrifying experience because I had nowhere to hide and some of our friends didn’t know I’d had weight loss surgery.

Basics of Dumping

  • You eat something you shouldn’t and you either feel like death or have to run to the bathroom for emergency number 2 or vomiting.
  • It happens because your stomach contents “dump” into your intestines too soon or too abruptly since your stomach size has been reduced.
  • Gastric bypass patients have a higher risk of dumping.
  • It can happen to sleevers too.

Questions? Comments? Or want to share your own experience, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m also on Instagram as @ana_vsg_miami.

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