There are numerous reasons a horse may cough. Coughing in horses is in involuntary reflex initiated by sensory cells located in the lining of the trachea and bronchi.
Viral infections are a common cause of coughing in horses, for example the respiratory virus Equine Influenza. Bacterial infections such as Strangles are also often accompanied by a cough due to excess mucous in the airways and a nasal discharge.
Common allergies often result in a cough as allergen particles (dust, mould spores etc) enter the lower respiratory tract and cause inflammation. Occasionally foreign objects also irritate the respiratory tract for example, a small piece of hay.
Certain parasites can cause coughing in horses. Roundworm infections may cause coughing in foals and weanlings due to the larvae migrating through the lung tissue as part of their life cycle.
Other causes include Exercise Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage (EIPH), Epiglottic Entrapment and Laryngeal Hemiplegia, the two latter both involving the larynx. Such conditions are usually accompanied by abnormal breathing also.
Can Equissage help?
In certain cases it can.
The cause of the coughing needs to be ascertained in order to determine whether Equissage can help or not. For example if the coughing is worm related, then Equissage can do nothing to assist; nor can it help if the cause if a foreign object in the respiratory tract. However it can help in situations where there is inflammation i.e. allergic reaction. SEE COPD
With regard to EIPH, veterinary science is still trying to unravel the exact cause of this and find a reliable solution. So whether Equissage can really help is open to debate. However, given the properties it has in helping to tone and strengthen muscles and tendons etc., then there is every reason for believing that its use can also assist the mechanism of the lungs. If there is repeated bleeding then alongside that there is low-grade inflammation, which of course Equissage can help combat. Thus using Equissage to help manage this condition certainly cannot do any harm as it will help in opening up the airways and promote good lung hygiene.
In the case of Laryngeal Hemiplegia - paralysis of the left vocal chord of the larynx - a Hobday or Tie-Back Operation is required depending of the severity of the individual case. Massage is proven to help in reducing scar tissue as it stimulates sensation. As a general rule, the earlier and more consistently scar tissue is exercised, massaged and warmed, the less possibility of developing any long-term concerns".
Epiglottic Entrapment also involves a surgical procedure to remove the excess tissue which "traps" the epiglottis so that is cannot function properly.
See also COPD
See also Epistaxis
In the case of Laryngeal Hemiplegia, following the operation, use Equissage as part of the horse's daily physiotherapy and also to help keep scar-tissue to a minimum. On a daily basis, in conjunction with the Pad (medium setting), use the Hand Unit - on a low setting - to gently massage the neck to encourage healing and prevent tightening of the neck muscles which is a natural consequence of the operation.