Oesophageal Patients Association
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Is there a link between stress / anxiety and dumping

Hello Everyone

I do have dumping issues related to food, but on the whole mine seems to be triggered by stress or anxiety. I am in the process of doing paperwork for ill health retirement as I just cannot work in a deadline driven environment ( I was a teacher) and need to be able to demonstrate a concrete link between stress and dumping.

Does anyone else get this, know of any good reference material ?????

6 Replies

My instinctive answer is that it might well be, but you need more chapter and verse than that for your purposes. I will ask around and come back to you.

Can I just check as to what surgery you have had, and how much of your stomach you still retain?


I had an Ivor Lewis in 2009 to remove a 4 inch tumour in my oesophagus..... and my "stomach"now sits over my right lung....

that's all I know, looking at some of the postings, I clearly have been a bit "head in the sand" about all this.

But a further complication for me, is that my husband was diagnosed with the same cancer at the same time and sadly died..... so its really only know that I am getting to grips with things again.

I seem to be reasonably OK with food, know what to avoid etc, but when ever I get into a "stressful "situation, my immediate reaction is to go running to the toilet, within seconds in some cases.

Basically the fatigue, which I still experience and this dumping seems to make employment in a deadline driven environment really difficult for me.


Hi Debbie,

Sadly I am in a similar situation to you in that I lost my husband to cancer in 2008 ago and then had an Ivor Lewis in 2010. I do send my sincere sympathy as I have walked a similar road and can begin to understand how hard it is to cope with all this after loosing a partner especially. I was a special needs /IL tutor/advisor and my husband was a secondary school teacher. I have always found that stress has had a detrimental affect on eating and coping (or not!) with food issues since the op and this has never really improved once a certain level had been reached. I find eating with other people almost impossible unless they know me well. I simply cannot eat and talk! I also need to physically have the time to relax when eating and be able to sit and rest afterwards as do an awfull lot of us after this op! The thought of managing in a staff room or similar would cause even more stress! I have a problem sometimes just coping with lunch out with my daughter and know where all the loos are in Norwich! In the current OPA newsletter a contributor has a brilliant article on dumping and how it can affect ones daily life. He has expressed the problems in the most readable and insightful way. I will ask Alan if he can post it on this site.

I would strongly suggest that you get your Union involved in this ASAP. My husband tried to cope with the ramifications of his surgery (not OC) with the school direct and got a very unsympathic response. In fact it was quite disgraceful and caused him great distress physically, emotionally and ultimately financially too. Had he used his trade union he would have qualified for retirement on health grounds. I wish you well with this, do message me if you feel it might be useful?



I am sorry to hear about your husband, Debbie.

Larry's article that Charlie refers to is on the OPA website


Or, from the Home Page opa.org.uk, go to Latest News Read More; then newletters; then Autumn 2012.

Recovery from this illness does take a lot of stamina both physical and mental, and I will come back to you in due course.


Hi Debbie

I think there is a correlation between anxiety and dumping syndrome. Essentially it is that motility which is the natural process of moving food through the digestive system is increased by anxiety which would increase the probability of your symptoms.

I have found that liquid loperimide which is the liquid form of imodium is a very useful what to slow down motility. If you have these symptoms frequently you should be able to get this on prescription. Talk to you clinical support team.

if you take some about 15-30 mins before you eat it can help to minimise these unpleasant bouts albeit that it want actually cure the problem.

With regards your ill health retirement I would suggest that you get a referral to a gastroenteroligist. They would be able to confirm medically that this is the case. If you have any difficulty let us know and we will try and find one to asssist you.

I'm so terribly sorry that you lost your husband to the same cancer. That must be a terrible additional burden to all that you're going through.

I wish you well and do keep us in touch and let us know if there is anything further we ccan do to help you.



Dear Debbie

I have spoken to a retired consultant gastroenterologist and also discussed it with some other knowledgeable people.

Our response / conclusion is that dumping syndrome as such tends overwhelmingly to be associated with eating and diet, and is physiological in character, especially in relation to the insulin spikes created by food passing through the system faster and in a less digested state than normal.

There are some eating habits that are important after these operations, eg eating little and often, and I can imagine that in a busy, stressed work environment it may be very difficult to achieve this. So in that sense there can be an indirect association.

Please fee free to use our Employers Notes that you can download


And indeed the useful factsheets from CORE


I believe that there are other digestive disorders that are much more stress-related (eg irritable bowel syndrome).

There are quite a wide range of symptoms that get referred to as dumping syndrome, and I am quite sure that in your case there is a set of causes and effects with the after-effects of surgery in the mix somewhere. It sounds as if it does need somebody like a gastroenterologist to give his opinion.

I do hope that things work out happily for you. Recovery after after illness and bereavement is a long hard road at times, and reaching the life that you want to be living will be at the end of that road, hopefully not far off.

All best wishes



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