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Does Gastric Bypass Surgery Cause Allergies and Food Intolerance?

You won’t develop food allergies from having gastric bypass surgery, yet you may need to give up some of your favorite flavors. And weight-loss surgery won’t fix your seasonal allergy issues — but you might find relief afterward.

In other words, don’t expect black-and-white, fixed-in-stone rules about how your body will change following a bariatric procedure. You’ll reap delightful surprise benefits beyond shedding pounds and may experience unexpected food-related challenges. The specifics, though, are different for every person.

Bariatric Surgery and Seasonal Allergies

When spring arrives, pollen blooms and sensitive noses get stuffy or runny. After having bariatric surgery, you may no longer have this seasonal affliction. That’s wonderful -- but it’s not because of the surgery itself.

The medical community has researched countless theories about the reason, and the basic findings are common sense: Losing weight by itself can clear your airways. Excess weight can put undue pressure on lungs and chest, making it harder for both your lungs and chest to expand during the breathing process. Reduce the weight — by surgery, dieting and/or exercise, and you will inhale more easily.

If you do continue to suffer from allergies after bariatric surgery, you should be selective about over-the-counter treatments. While allergy medications by themselves are safe, some are combined with NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and/or celecoxib). Those can be harmful for bariatric patients, so make sure you choose products that are made without NSAIDs.

In addition, if you have an asthma attack and have had a gastric bypass procedure, try to avoid receiving a steroid treatment. Steroids can cause marginal ulcers. If you must have a steroid treatment, reach out to your bariatric surgeon beforehand to request medications to help minimize the risk of ulceration.

Another breathing benefit after you have bariatric surgery? Once your body gets smaller, your sleep apnea may dissipate. Losing weight often causes obstructive sleep apnea — in which you stop breathing periodically during the night — to regress or even go into remission.

Eating After Bariatric Surgery: 2 Truths and 1 Myth

Bariatric surgery does not cause food allergies, yet a large percentage of patients find changes in both what they like to eat and what they can eat.

Your taste buds change. TRUE. Post-surgical you may find that, say, you suddenly dislike salmon or are fond of canned tuna. The reasons are not completely understood, yet the reactions are normal. They show that a range of changes happen in the body after a stomach is smaller or bowels are rerouted.

You develop food intolerance. TRUE. It’s fairly common that certain foods won’t agree with you, causing nausea and/or vomiting. It doesn’t mean you are allergic, and the medical community has no explanation. Eggs, red meats and bread are common examples. The bread issue is neither gluten-intolerance nor Celiac disease; it’s more related to bread expanding when it’s soaked in gastric fluids in a smaller stomach. You should experiment with what you eat to discover which foods are troublesome.

You become lactose intolerant. MYTH. Bariatric surgery does not cause lactose intolerance. However, it can seem as if it does. In reality, after surgery you will be on a liquid diet for a period of time. Many protein shakes are made with dairy. Ditto yogurt and soft cheeses, which are also allowed early on post-surgery. This might cause abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea because, for the first time as an adult, your diet is lactose-heavy. You may have already become somewhat lactose-intolerant but never knew it. Most adults have far less of the enzyme that digests dairy, but we don’t have issues because our diets are varied. You can manage this situation by using over-the-counter supplements or choosing lactose-free protein shakes.

Allergies Are Unrelated to Bariatric Surgery

Gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries have far more benefits than just losing weight. In addition to easing other medical issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure, the weight loss that results from these procedures may reduce the effects of seasonal allergies, sleep apnea and other breathing-related issues.

Don’t let the potential for some food intolerance scare you away. Over time, you’ll discover which foods are right for your body. That will be your new normal — along with a thinner, healthier self.

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