Retention of fluids such as in your father can be consequence of many phenomena. The most probable ones are:
· Kidney failure: Kidney is one of our vital organs. It removes excess fluid, waste, toxic substances from the blood, regulates blood volume and controls our blood pressure. When it fails, water retention occurs in all body cavities, including the abdomen, around the heart and sometimes, around the lungs too.
· Metastasis to the liver: The cancer in the stomach could have spread to the liver. Liver is where major proteins are synthesized. Proteins are what retains water inside the blood vessels and prevents them from seeping into tissues and body cavities. Reduction in the synthesis of proteins due to liver dysfunction will, therefore retain much water.
· Syndrome of Inappropriate ADH secretion: ADH ( Anti- diuretic hormone) is a hormone that is secreted by a gland in the brain that retains water in the body by preventing water loss from the kidneys. This hormone is usually secreted when one is thirsty, in order to preserve water in the body. Sometimes, the cancer cells develop the potential to secrete ADH ectopically. This is what causes water retention in the body.
Frequent dizzy spells when your father gets up is due to low blood pressure. This is probably a result of compromised cardiac function that is caused by the fluid surrounding the heart.
I suggest that you contact his doctor immediately. His cancer needs to be evaluated quickly. Depending on how much it has spread through his body, treatment will differ from radiotherapy to chemotherapy. To relieve your father of his disturbing symptoms caused by water retention, his physician will most probably recommend that he be put on diuretic medication like furosemide. This drug promotes excretion of water through the kidneys, thereby draining all fluid.
Before this drug is administered, kidney function tests will be ordered to assess the status of the kidneys. If the functioning status is found to be bad, he will be put on dialysis instead. Also, if the cardiac function is much compromised, the doctor might also suggest that the fluid be drained surgically by a procedure called pericardiocentesis. There is nothing much you can do for him at home. So ideal would be to take him to a hospital as soon as possible!
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