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Question – I wake up in the morning very light headed and in a dizzy spell. I try to eat or drink something (usually protein) before bed, but often it’s just a swallow or 2 because that’s all I can eat. I’m wondering if it’s not low blood sugar after bariatric surgery. Any suggestions?
Reasons for Dizzy Spells After Weight Loss Surgery
- Dizziness is not uncommon after bariatric surgery.
- It can range from mild light-headedness to feelings of faintness and weakness.
- There are numerous factors that can cause vertigo after bariatric surgery.
Dumping Syndrome Post Weight Loss Surgery
Light-headedness is usually a symptom of hypoglycemia as part of the late dumping syndrome, especially in RnY Gastric Bypass.
- According to Clinical Advisor1, the large amount of insulin released by the body in response to the sudden increase in blood glucose levels after consuming sweet foods can lead to hypoglycemia which may make you feel dizzy.
- The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), however, states that light-headedness is also a symptom of early dumping syndrome along with nausea after bariatric surgery.2 Here is a read on ways to overcome nausea after bariatric surgery.
Decrease in Ghrelin
- Ghrelin, often termed as hunger hormone, regulates the appetite of the individual and defines how much he eats.
- Weight loss surgery intends to reduce the levels of this gut hormone, at least to some extent.
- Decreased ghrelin followed by lower appetite is also another reason for feeling dizzy after bariatric surgery.
Staple Line Leak
Dizziness is often a symptom of leakage of the staple line after sleeve gastrectomy. If along with light-headedness, you experience a couple of the following symptoms, visit your surgeon immediately:
- Breathing problems
- Elevated heart rate
- Stomach pain
Nutritional Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery
One may also feel light-headed due to lack of certain micronutrients, specifically:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
It is often accompanied by fatigue and low blood pressure. This can be fixed by taking a recommended dose of nutritional supplements after weight loss surgery.
- Large time gaps between meals or not drinking enough water causes electrolyte imbalance which is indicated by light-headedness or dizziness.
- Electrolyte abnormalities comprise of low levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium or sodium.3
How to Overcome Dizziness After Gastric Sleeve or Bypass
- Having some complex carbohydrates and fat/protein before bed can help.
- Try a banana with 1-2 tbs. of peanut butter or 1 oz cheese with an apple or 1/2 cup of oatmeal with some nut butter mixed in, etc.
- You may have to decrease dinner so that you have room for a significant snack before bed.
- Complex carbohydrates are fine. You just want to avoid introducing the “simple” carbohydrates like sweets, chips, etc.
- Fruit is great too.
- Eating late is okay as long as it is not causing discomfort or reflux.
- Now, you don’t need to eat a lot, but you do need to fuel yourself to get through the night.
- It’s not “bad” to eat after 8 pm or 9 pm, etc. It’s all about fueling yourself properly to feel your best.
Sometimes, the light-headedness is completely unrelated to bariatric surgery, which is why it is best to get yourself checked periodically.
Suggestions by Our US-Registered Bariatric Nutritionist
- Check your blood glucose more frequently.
- When your blood glucose is lower than normal have a small amount of carb and some fat or protein to help slow absorption.
- Increasing the intake of carbs and calories before doing physical activity is essential. Have a mini meal at least 60-90 minutes before exercising.
- Eat consistently throughout the day (every 3-5 hours).
- Increase your fluid intake after bariatric surgery. Add lemon juice, lime juice and chopped strawberries for creating your own flavored water.
- Diluting regular juices with water is another great option.
What Our Clients Say
- Most of our clients experience dizziness mainly due to dehydration and nutritional imbalances.
- Some of them take Vitamin B12 shots and drink more liquids to increase potassium levels.
- One of them included carbs such as cereals and toast in her meal before bed and reportedly felt better after waking up the next day.
- Another method adopted by our clients is that, at work, they keep a jug of water on their desk so that they are consistently reminded of taking a few sips every now and then. Hydration is very important.
- One client suggests having some pickle juice, oranges, avocadoes and kiwis to maintain electrolyte balance in the body while other suggests having Gatorade G2 or Powerade 1-2 times a day.
- Gradually increasing carbohydrates in the diet, walking and doing light breathing exercise is a good way to beat light-headedness after surgery.
- Jurgensen, Julia. “Weak and dizzy spells in a patient after gastric bypass surgery.” Clinical Advisor, 2016, https://bit.ly/2lBDkHy
- “Bariatric Surgery: Postoperative Concerns.” ASMBS – American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery https://asmbs.org/resources/bariatric-surgery-postoperative-concerns-2
- Jammah, Anwar A. “Endocrine and Metabolic Complications After Bariatric Surgery.” Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology : Official Journal of the Saudi Gastroenterology Association, 21.5, 2015, 269–277. PMC. Web, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632250/
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