Most cases of dumping syndrome improve as people learn to eat better for the condition and as the digestive system adjusts. There's a good chance that changing your diet will resolve your symptoms. (See recommendations under Lifestyle and home remedies.) If it doesn't, your doctor may advise medications or surgery to address the problem.
Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to slow the passage of food out of your stomach, and relieve the signs and symptoms associated with dumping syndrome. These drugs are most appropriate for people with severe signs and symptoms, and they don't work for everyone.
The medications that doctors most frequently prescribe are:
- Acarbose (Precose). This medication delays the digestion of carbohydrates. Doctors prescribe it most often for the management of type 2 diabetes, and it has also been found to be effective in people with late-onset dumping syndrome. Side effects may include sweating, headaches, sudden hunger and weakness.
- Octreotide (Sandostatin). This anti-diarrheal drug can slow down the emptying of food into the intestine. You take this drug by injecting it under your skin (subcutaneously). Be sure to talk with your doctor about the proper way to self-administer the drug, including optimal choices for injection sites. Long-acting formulations of this medication are available.
Because octreotide carries the risk of side effects (diarrhea, bulky stools, gallstones, flatulence, bloating) in some people, doctors recommend it only for people who haven't responded to other treatments and who are not candidates for surgery.
Doctors use a number of surgical procedures to treat difficult cases of dumping syndrome that are resistant to more conservative approaches. Most of these operations are reconstructive techniques, such as reconstructing the pylorus, or they're intended to reverse gastric bypass surgery.
A last resort for people who are not helped by any other treatment is to insert a tube into the small intestine through which nutrients can be delivered.
Feb. 23, 2013
- Rapid gastric emptying. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/rapidgastricemptying/. Accessed April 27, 2012.
- Tack J, et al. Pathophysiology, diagnosis and management of postoperative dumping syndrome. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2009;6:583.
- Townsend CM Jr, et al. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-1-4377-1560-6&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1560-6..00049-4--s0425. Accessed April 25, 2012.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Dietary Guidelines for Managing Dumping Syndrome. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2008.
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- Mine S et al. Large-scale investigation into dumping syndrome after gastrectomy for gastric cancer. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2010; 211: 628.
- Collazo-Clavell ML (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 1, 2012.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. May 8, 2012.