What is dumping syndrome?

Dumping syndrome is a medical condition in which your stomach empties its contents into the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum) faster than normal. Dumping syndrome is also known as rapid gastric emptying.

People with dumping syndrome experience symptoms like nausea and abdominal cramping. These symptoms happen because your small intestine cannot absorb nutrients from food that has not been digested properly in the stomach. You are more likely to have dumping syndrome if you have had certain types of gastric surgery, like gastric bypass surgery.

Doctors classify dumping syndrome into two specific types: early dumping syndrome and late dumping syndrome. Each type occurs at different times after you eat and causes different symptoms.

What causes dumping syndrome?

Early and late dumping syndromes have different causes.

  • Early dumping syndrome: Large amounts of food from your stomach move faster than normal into your duodenum (small intestine). After this food movement, fluid from the stomach rushes into your small intestine. This fluid is a mixture of stomach acid and partially digested foods and beverages.
  • Late dumping syndrome: Symptoms occur when large amounts of glucose (sugar) from foods and beverages move quickly into the small intestine. The arrival of sugar causes your blood glucose (blood sugar) level to rise faster than normal. In response, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin. Insulin causes your blood glucose level to fall too fast. The result can be hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and other symptoms like weakness.

Who is most at risk for getting dumping syndrome?

You are more likely to experience early or late dumping syndrome if you have had certain types of gastric surgeries. It is most common in people who have had surgeries that remove or bypass large portions of the stomach. These procedures include gastric bypass surgery and gastrectomy.

You may also experience dumping syndrome if you have certain medical conditions. One example is functional dyspepsia, which causes the upper portion of your digestive tract, including your esophagus and stomach, to constantly move food forward. Also, certain types of nerve damage, like that caused by certain esophageal surgeries, affect how your stomach retains and passes food to the small intestine.

What are the symptoms of dumping syndrome?

The symptoms of dumping syndrome depend on the type of dumping syndrome you have.

Early dumping syndrome usually occurs within 30 minutes of finishing a meal. If you live with early dumping syndrome, your symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping
  • Feeling bloated
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Cold sweats

The symptoms of late dumping syndrome typically occur 2 to 3 hours after a meal. Your symptoms may include:

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