Headshaking in the horse is a common problem and often affecting up to 30% of patients to variable levels, creating high frustration for the horse owner. The exact cause of this condition can be variable from patient to patient and thus treatment and results can be variable. Headshaking can vary in regards to presentation from simple flaring of the nostrils, flipping of the nose, rubbing the nose, snorting often, sneezing and even variable degrees of overt head shaking. Given the wide range of presentation,potential causes, lack of consistent treatment response and frustration factor for the horse owner, headshaking deserves some investigation for better management options. As is my character, let’s dig into what we know regarding headshaking and see if we can not only make sense of it, but also discover potentials for therapy.
Free radicals are an important entity in chemistry and in health, having been researched for many years with connections to cellular changes that may impact overall health and aging. A free radical is a molecule that has an unpaired electron in the outer shell, which creates instability and a high rate of reactivity with other molecules. Free radicals are produced as a normal part of cellular respiration or energy production, but can also be generated as a consequence of environmental factors, stress, poor diet, food additives, medications and genetics. In general, they can have huge negative impacts on overall health, performance and sustainability, but the good news is that with understanding, we also realize that there are things we can do to minimize the damage inflicted.
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It seems that for the past several years, you can’t turn on the TV or even talk to a small group of friends without the mention of the word “CANCER”. Either there is someone close that you know with cancer or they are making new discoveries regarding the pathology and process of the disease. It is everywhere, it seems, but there are several noteworthy things one can do to prevent or lower the risk of disease.
The whole goal of the field of medicine should be aimed at disease prevention, but unfortunately, most of the time is dedicated to disease management. I feel at times, even as a veterinarian, that if we spent more time with younger patients focusing on good life habits, we would reduce the incidence of disease. This is not done for several reasons, time being one of them, but also we have to keep in mind that profits are not as good for disease prevention as they are for disease management. Cancer is a huge, profit driven force that often times does not take the best interest of the patients into consideration. This is true whether if we are talking about people or animals.