Getting to the bottom of her postpartum pain

Q. Right after I delivered my baby, I realized I had hemorrhoids. It felt like an entire bunch of grapes and it made bathroom visits very painful — worse than childbirth.

The doctor recommended a sitz bath. It is a basin to put under the toilet seat, so that warm water can gently clean that area. It was wonderful.

He also prescribed lidocaine. I applied it once I had my bottom dry. When I needed to sit, I used a hemorrhoid circle, like a big doughnut, to make sitting more comfortable.

The other thing that helped while I was recovering from labor was stool softeners. They definitely made it easier while the hemorrhoids were healing. I hope this helps other new mothers who find that all the pushing brought out the hemorrhoids as well as the baby.

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A. Hemorrhoids are a common complication of pregnancy and delivery. Many women have found a sitz bath soothing. You can even get the benefits of soaking in warm water by sitting in the bathtub.

Lidocaine is a topical anesthetic, so we are not surprised you found it helpful. Other readers have found relief from hemorrhoid pain with witch hazel or zinc oxide.

Q. My elderly mother has been very conscientious about a low-salt diet. She never salts her food and is careful not to eat processed foods high in sodium.

Despite this, her doctor diagnosed her with mild high blood pressure and put her on a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide. Last week she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom; she suddenly felt weak and collapsed. When the paramedics came in response to her call button, she was confused.

They took her to the hospital and discovered that her sodium and potassium levels were perilously low. Could her medicine be responsible for this scary episode?

A. Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HCT) is one of the most commonly prescribed blood-pressure drugs in the world. It is considered safe and…

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