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Woman lying on couch with dumping syndrome

Early vs Late Dumping Syndrome

Dumping. If you haven’t experienced it, you’ve at least heard about it.  But did you know that there are two different forms of dumping syndrome?  Early dumping is the most common and most often experienced by people with a gastric bypass.  Late dumping is less common and is also known as reactive hypoglycemia. 

Early Dumping Syndrome

Early dumping syndrome usually occurs 10-30 minutes after eating something high in sugar and/or high in fat.  This food moves from the stomach to the intestines too quickly – called rapid gastric emptying – which is too concentrated.  Your body reacts by moving fluid circulating in the bloodstream to the inside of your gut. As a result, your intestines become full and bloated. Diarrhea can occur 30 to 60 minutes later.  The dizziness, fatigue, discomfort, and faintness come from the drop in blood pressure and racing heartbeat that many people experience.  These happen due to reactions in the intestine as well as the shift of fluid from the bloodstream to the gut.   There is not much to do to cure these symptoms other than to wait them out and avoid the food that caused the dumping in the future. 

Late Dumping Syndrome

Late dumping is less common than early dumping. It occurs about 1-3 hours after eating meals dense in carbohydrates.  The high carbohydrate load causes your blood sugar to rise and your pancreas to release insulin. While this is what should happen, the amount of insulin released can exceed how much your body needs – causing blood sugar to drop too much.  This is called reactive hypoglycemia and can cause symptoms such as tremors, irritation, hunger, confusion, rapid heart rate, fatigue, and cold sweats. The best way to treat this is with a food or drink that has a combination of carbohydrates and protein and/or fat so you can get your blood sugar back up without it causing another round of hypoglycemia. As you may notice, the symptoms of early and late dumping are quite similar. The best way to know which one you are experiencing is how quickly it developed after eating. You can then work your way backward to try to figure out what caused it and how you can avoid it in the future. Here you can read more about late dumping.

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