In race-horses and hunters, when highly strung and in a plethoric condition, bleeding from the nose frequently occurs in the course of a race or the chase, and many a brilliant performer in either capacity has had his career cut short, and the hope and aspirations of both owner and trainer levelled to the ground, by the occurrence of this mishap.
Bleeding from the nose may be quite accidental, and it is by no means the case that its first occurrence should be followed by a repetition of the event. Where, however, this does occur, and the mishap is repeated from time to time, the existence of some structural weakness of the vascular system may be reasonably inferred.
It does not, however, follow that it should continue throughout life. Several instances are known to the writer where bleeding from the nose at two or three years old has repeatedly occurred, to disappear altogether at four or five; but it is poor consolation to an owner of promising and highly engaged youngsters to be told that the capacity for winning races will be reached when all the best opportunities have passed and the stakes safely landed by others.
That weakness of the vascular system is hereditary is well affirmed in certain families of horses, no better example of which could be given than the descendants of that famous sire Hermit, several of whom were hopelessly afflicted as race-horses.
Bleeding from the nose is usually determined by some severe exertion, sudden effort, or excitement acting upon a naturally weak or over-distended state of the vessels. The latter condition is found in plethora, in congestion of the lining membrane of the nostrils, attendant upon cold and certain specific fevers. Sometimes it arises out of a superficial ulceration of the nostrils of a benign character, but more commonly in the destructive ulceration of glanders. It is also a prominent feature in that form of blood disease known as purpura hsemorrhagica.
The discharge of blood may not be more than a few drops, or it may flow in a large and continuous stream. In the one case it is a matter of little moment, save as a warning of its possible recurrence, while in the other it may lead to serious mischief and give rise to symptoms of an exhausting and threatening character, which we have fully described under the head of "Hemorrhage".
Perfect quiet and a cold stable are the first requirements in the treatment of epistaxis. In the choice of remedies the great object will be to cause the blood-vessels to contract and to hasten the formation of a clot of blood at the seat of rupture, and thus effect a stoppage of the escapement. These indications are most likely to be met by irrigating the face with ice-cold water from the poll downwards, or applying a bag of powdered ice over the entire region of the nostrils. Should this fail to meet the purpose, the injection of astringent solutions into the nostrils, or the insufflation of fine astringent powders, may be resorted to. The salts of iron, acetate of lead, or gallic or tannic acid will be found to answer the purpose best. Plugging the bleeding nostril with cotton-wool soaked with one or another of the astringent solutions referred to may be tried in severe cases, but its adoption requires care.
For internal remedies see " Hemorrhage ".
Horses given to bleeding from the nose should not be put to severe work, neither should they be highly fed, and it is most desirable that food and water be given them two or, better, three hours before going to work. With the object of imparting tone to the vessels a dram of sulphate of iron should be given in the food twice daily for a fortnight or three weeks now and again.