What are Nasal Polyps?
Nasal polyps in horses are usually painless but they can grow to a size where they affect your horse’s breathing. If the polyps grow in a cluster, they can get quite invasive and may obstruct the sinus drainage which will then create other problems within the nasal passage. These growths often worsen over time as they grow and create other problems such as infection of a serious nature.
If the appearance of your equine’s face appears to be misshapen or swollen, if there is a discharge from the nose, or his behavior when working has changed, called your veterinarian for an evaluation. Examination and imaging will be needed in order to determine the method of treatment which may involve medication and surgery, depending on the cause of the polyps.
Nasal polyps are inflammatory growths that are typically non-cancerous. They occur in your horse’s nasal cavity and can be singular or multiple growths, capable of inhibiting normal breathing.
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Symptoms of Nasal Polyps in Horses
- Noisy breathing – loud and labored due to poor air flow through the nasal passage
- Reluctance to exercise or not performing as well as before
- Evidence of swelling around the face
- Foul smelling discharge from the nostrils
- Lymph node enlargement and swelling
- Nasal discharge
Nasal polyps can vary in appearance and should always be evaluated by an equine veterinarian.
- They can be multiple growths that look like a bunch of grapes
- Polyps can be a response to chronic inflammation
- They are not usually cancerous but need checking
- There are no leading indicators for predisposition like age or breed
- Usually these polyps are a soft tissue growth
- The polyp can develop as a single growth
Causes of Nasal Polyps in Horses
- Inflammation within the mucous membrane
- Unusual growth acceleration of the fibrous connective tissue
- Allergies may be the cause
- Aspirin intolerance
- Cystic fibrosis
Diagnosis of Nasal Polyps in Horses
Calling your veterinary specialist is the first thing towards obtaining a diagnosis of what is troubling your horse. Your specialist will examine the history of the health of your horse, and look for any physical signs during an examination. The specialist may explore any allergies your horse may have, or whether they have suffered from sinusitis or other similar afflictions.
The best way to detect these grows comes from using endoscopy examination or from computed tomography (CT scan), or through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). By using these methods your veterinarian will be able to determine how large the growth is and how it is affecting your horse. These factors will enable him to decide the best treatment for your horse. Taking a tissue sample to do tests in the laboratory (a biopsy) will show the effect these growths are having on your horse’s system and confirm the condition.
Treatment of Nasal Polyps in Horses
Antihistamines or decongestants may provide your horse with some relief but they will not cure the condition. It is a temporary fix to enable your horse to breath easier. Another suggestion from your veterinarian may be to trial corticosteroids and antibiotic medications to see if they can cure the condition. If the growth is small and new, these may help provide a cure. But for an established growth that is getting larger, surgery may be the only other alternative. Surgical methods include gaining access via an incision in a trephine opening or failing that, through a bone flap. Radiographs of the skull can detect abnormalities and guide the treatment process. Fortunately, the respiratory system is readily accessible to allow diagnosis and surgery. New laser treatments are being trialed that may make treatment easier.
Recovery of Nasal Polyps in Horses
If surgery is required, the prognosis is good for a full recovery, depending on the extent of the growth. After surgery, your horse is best kept confined in its box and allowed time to heal. A course of antibiotics may be prescribed for your horse. There may be discharge from the nostrils which will need cleaning away and perhaps flushing of the nasal passage will be recommended. Your horse should respond and recover well but will need time before getting back into heavy exercise. Your veterinarian will advise keeping a watch on how your horse is in the future as the polyps may reoccur. The best course of action is to call your veterinarian if you suspect that this is happening. The sooner it is caught the easier it is to treat.