If your equine athlete has ever had a nosebleed (epistaxis), then you are probably familiar with the term: Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). It's likely you've discussed both medical and non-medical treatment options for this disorder as there is no cure. Typically, the plan is to reduce the symptoms with proper rest between workouts, medication and nutritional supplements shown to help EIPH horses .
What causes EIPH bleeding in horses
The actual reason some horses experience EIPH episodes, while others do not, is still unknown. Simply put, this condition is caused when pulmonary blood vessels in the lung rupture while the horse is exercising. Pressure within the airways can cause these blood vessels to break even while participating in mild exercise, so it's not just strenuous activity that causes bleeding. Most horses with EIPH will only have bleeding within the airways, which is not visible without a scope. Only a small percentage experience bleeding from one or both nostrils. Without proper care, each episode creates scar tissue and lung damage which eventually reduces lung capacity and function.
Veterinary Care for Equine Bleeders
Once your horse has been properly diagnosed by your vet, a diuretic is prescribed for use 4 hours prior to exercise. Furosemide (Salix, formerly Lasix) increases urination which lowers the volume of blood in the body. The result is less pressure in the lungs and on its blood vessels. While the medication may reduce symptoms, it cannot completely prevent bleeding episodes.
With Salix being the only race-day approved medication in some jurisdictions, alternatives are being researched as the medication continues to receive support to ban it. Some vets are showing positive results with Furosemide alternatives such as concentrated equine serum, nitric oxide, conjugated estrogens and anti-fibrinolytics. Others prescribe anti-inflammatories to reduce airway swelling and bronchodilators to assist the respiratory function. You should discuss these options only with a licensed veterinarian.
Alternative Treatments for Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage
Non-medical treatment options include nasal strips (nasal dilators). When used during workouts, they help balance the pressure within the lungs and it's membranes to reduce bleeding. Other non-medical treatment options include herbal formulas, supplements, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of stall rest. Microcurrent therapy is also another option that some EIPH horse owners have had success with.
Equine Feed Additives for EIPH Management
Since EIPH is not curable and no one treatment can eliminate the risk of lung bleeding, adding a supplement to your treatment plan can help. Some bleeder supplement ingredients may strengthen the capillaries (blood vessels) which can help reduce fluids, mucus and irritation of the airways. These supplements, like TWYDIL® X, can also help horses prone to other respiratory issues including heaves, COPD, stable cough, allergies and fungal infections.
Respiratory Supplement to Support Performance Horse’s With Bleeding Lungs and Inflamed Airways
While EIPH is common in the racing industry, it is not limited to just thoroughbreds. The lung bleeding disorder can be found in other breeds including Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, Arabians and Standardbreds. However, It's not uncommon to find bleeders in any high-performance equine sport such as eventing, steeplechasing, polo, show jumping, barrel racing and reining.
Even a small loss of lung function due to damage and scar tissue can reduce a horse's performance and shorten their career. To protect your horse’s respiratory health, maximize lung capacity and reduce the frequency of bleeding, TWYDIL® X is formulated to minimize airway inflammation and reduce pressure-inducing fluids. With only plant and mineral-based ingredients, it is safe for daily use in all horses. Our EIPH respiratory aid is a natural, drug-free alternative to Lasix making it allowable for use during competition.