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Discussion on Swelling Under Ears, along Jaw

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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 10
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Wednesday, Aug 6, 2003 - 11:00 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

This morning my 14 yr old Arab mare was off her feed, and stretching her neck out, like when horses do sometimes when eating a carrot or apple. She had some swelling under her left ear, going down a little along her jaw line. The swelling was about the size of my palm. Tonight it has traveled farther, and is on both sides now, with one side being worse. This seems like the equivelant of maybe a human ear infection and those euch-whatever tubes that get infected? (my kids never had ear infections, don't know the terms. My mares temp was 102, I think her pulse and respiratory rate is normal. I just printed the info on that from this site, so I can double check in morning. I am worried the swelling will soon hit her esophagus and affect her breathing. I have had this girl for 12 yrs, and she has been know to act as if her ears were being "bugged", pun intended. Sometimes when out riding she'd really act up as if she had a fly in her ear, and I'd rub her ears and she'd calm down. I have been rubbing her today, and it's obvious painful closer to her ears. I searched this site, but came up with nothing under ears and am at a complete loss as to what this could be, or how to treat it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Vets take days to respond in my neck of the woods.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8897
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Aug 7, 2003 - 7:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Angie,
Infections in the ear do not cause swelling in the head, and very rare in the horse. The area you describe involved in the swelling is a complicated one with a number of different structures (bone, tooth roots, large vessels, lymph nodes, salivary glands) that can swell. I cannot tell what is wrong and if it is serious from your post. You should seek veterinary help with this and if they cannot come to you, load her up and take her to them.
DrO
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 11
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 7, 2003 - 8:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Dr O for your prompt reply. She did somewhat clean up her hay overnight, and ate grain this morning. Eats slowly, stomps her foot (in frustration)still stretching and opening her mouth at times. The swelling is still worse on one side, it's like an inflated tube has been inserted in her starting at her ear and going along jaw. When I rub her, it seems the pain is worse near the base of her ear. She's always enjoyed having the "itchies" in her ear rubbed, so it's not like she's shy around the ears.
That's why I thought ear infection. I'll keep calling vets (no trailor) and see if anyone can come out. Are there any pictures of this part of a horse showing lymph nodes, teeth, etc.? thanks again.
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 12
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 7, 2003 - 5:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

This is an update on my mare: I did get lucky and a vet was nearby. No answers really, but we are gonna try some antibiotics,and something for the swelling.(Banamine) My vet doesn't believe in checking blood counts yet; so I'll wait and see for the next week what happens with Willow. She's at least grazing with meds in her system, so that's a positive sign. Love the info on this site!!!
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Alice Taft
Member
Username: Clover

Post Number: 2
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Thursday, Aug 7, 2003 - 6:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I had a mare with the exact symptoms. It turned out to be allergies. When we put her in the barn for several hours the swelling would go down. When we put her out the swelling would come back. It was explained to me that the allergic reaction caused her tear ducts in her nostrils to close off and that caused her salivary glands to fill up. A few days later whatever she was allergic to must have left and we haven't had the problem since.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8906
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Aug 8, 2003 - 6:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello All,
Alice the nasolacrimal duct in no way has an effect on the slaviary glands or its ducts, there must have been a miscommunication.

Angie, we have a diagram that shows the vascular nature and its relation to the guttaral pouch, which also underlies this area, but does not show the lymph nodes or salivary glands which lie over the top of the structures in this picture. See References Equine Illustrations Head and Mouth Carotid Artery and Guttaral Pouch. They are somewhat confusing to se because they are variable in their appearance, intermingled with each other and lie just behind the jaw. The tooth roots in this part of the jaw are shown at Care for Horses Routine Care & Procedures Equine Dentistry.

Which structures did the vet think was enlarged and did he think it was swollen on both sides?
DrO
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 13
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 8, 2003 - 9:55 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Alice & Dr.O:

My vet suggested Willow maybe got her halter caught and pulled causing swelling or, maybe, sinus were filled up. She said worse case scenario would be having to have sinuses drilled and drained. So apparently that's why we are treating the swelling and possible infection. Being she had a fever, I guess infection makes sense. Temp as I said was 102 the first night, but only 101 yesterday noon. She did feel warm all over, and it was cloudy, drizzly and cool. I very much doubt the halter theory, as there is nothing around to get caught on, and her foot won't fit in it. Before I get grief from anyone about leaving the halter on, it's only on when they are in one of our pastures which is not electric and they are led to & from it. That was the case the day before I noticed the swelling. Yes, the swelling was on both sides, but started on the one side, and was/is worse on the left side. To better describe it, when her head is down, it looks like a triangle shaped swelling with the wide base of the triangle being at the base of the ear, on the side of her head. When her head is up, then you see swelling going down her throat area. It's hard, warm and painful to her when touched. I wonder about the allergy possibilty because it has been so dry here this summer. The horses have been mostly in their holding area with hay. And with dust an 1" thick at times on the ground, I've had alot of eye problems, and coughing. I'll look at the illustrations and see if I can a better idea what area may be involved. The swelling seems a little less this morning, and she did eat o.k..
I'll get back here if I see anything in pictures!!
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 14
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, Aug 8, 2003 - 10:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I did look at that illustration already. I think the swelling is higher than that of the Guttural Pouch, (the big triangle part) and different. It's not a very helpful picture, thanks anywhy. I don't think teeth roots are the cause either, because the swelling started closer to ears than teeth.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8912
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Aug 8, 2003 - 11:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If the sinuses were filled there would be copious nasal discharge (and both the guttural pouches and tooth roots are closer). I still am not clear as to which structures your vet thinks is swollen.
DrO
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 15
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Saturday, Aug 9, 2003 - 8:01 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I am not clear either on what my vet thinks; methinks she don't really know because her suggestions of halter pulling, or sinuses doesn't fit. There is some nasal discharge, but nothing unusual. She didn't try to check teeth even. And a teeth problem affecting both sides at once? Bugs in ear canal make more sense to me, but even that theory has flaws. What is this guttural pouch for anyways? If it goes away, and we never know what is was, I guess I'll have to settle for that! By the way, my vet has been practicing at least since we moved here 15 yrs ago, and she has horses of her own, but she leaves me frustrated alot of times: but then, so does my doctor!!
Angie
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 16
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Saturday, Aug 9, 2003 - 8:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

My apologies for 2nd post in row, but maybe this will help. I am looking at printed picture from equine dentistry (side view) the swelling is in that kidney bean shaped area under ear, towards neck side, not on forhead side as much. Then going along jaw bone like where those "fingers" go down on neck. Sorry my description isn't the best, but this as close as I can get.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8913
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Aug 9, 2003 - 9:35 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Bugs in the ears is nonsense, but you are right, if the swelling is bilateral: a tooth is unlikely and so is a problem with the salivary glands. Lets see now if we can put this together, fever, inappetance, with bilateral enlargements of what is problably the lymph nodes in this region: sounds like a mild virus to me.
DrO
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 23
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Thursday, Nov 6, 2003 - 9:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O,

I thought I'd share an update concerning the swelling my mare had 3 months ago. (under ears, along throat latch, jaw bone. Off feed, slight temp., sticking head out) I had a new vet out this morning for teeth floating. This vet sedated my mare, and was able to really check her teeth good, and filed them. We discussed the swelling under ears that had me worried previously and when she checked her over she found a lymph node that was enlarged, about the size of a small egg. Or at least that's the size it felt to me. She thought it was strange that the swelling has lasted so long, if it was a viral thing it should be gone by now. (It is only slightly noticeable on her left side) My horse is otherwise healthy, and the teeth needed work, but nothing major.

She said to just watch it, or invest a couple hundred bucks for biopsy and lab work, etc. to see if it's cancerous.

From what I read about that type of thing on this site, it seems if it is cancerous, not much hope. And it may stay the same for a long time, or suddenly get worse. If it's not, it may just be something that is there to bug her, and worry me.

With this new information, what are your thoughts now please? You previously thought viral infection of some kind. Should I just keep checking the size and hardness of it on a regular basis? Does one ever drain something like that?

Would this bug her and cause her to throw her head up and around? (a very Arabish trait I know)
She still chews with her neck stretched out more than normal.

Thanks for your time, appreciate it.

Angie

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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9427
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Nov 7, 2003 - 6:44 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks for the update Angie. The basis for proposing infection was based on the whole clinical picture of fever and inappetance. This may or may not be related to the earlier problem and without seeing it myself I must rely on the vets conclusion.

If you decide not to biopsy, regularly checking it makes sense to me. A noninvasive way to get more information, like does it have a liquid center, would be an ultrasound.
DrO
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 25
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Friday, Nov 7, 2003 - 7:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O

So...if I read you right, if it has a liquid center it is just an infected lymph node, and if it is hard more like a tumor then it's possibly cancerous? Or a benign tumor even? Then decide if we should do biopsy after ultrasound depending on that result.

I got the impression that the biopsy would be kinda iffy, 50/50 chance of it showing the right results. So for the money, finding someone to trailor her, etc, I thought as long as she's healthy I'd just keep checking it.

Thank you for much valued input.
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Elizabeth Donahue
Member
Username: Paul303

Post Number: 395
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, Nov 8, 2003 - 12:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

But, wait a minute...wouldn't this just involve a needle biopsy that the vet could come out and do? Maybe you won't get a definitive diagnosis, but identifying some of the cells could be helpful, and it shouldn't really be too costly.
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Liselotte F. Bradford
Member
Username: Lilo

Post Number: 91
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Saturday, Nov 8, 2003 - 9:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie,
I would probably opt for the least invasive method first. This is hard for me to talk about, because the horse involved was my daughter's beloved quarter horse (beloved by the entire family). Anyway, he developed a swollen lymph node - very much like strangles, except he was an older horse and strangles did not seem likely. The vet did some digging around in there to try and figure it out - I am sure it did not help matters. We let it drain and flushed it - it seemed to get better for a while and then came back with a vengeance. This time I went to a specialist, who did a biopsy. The results came back negative for cancer, and we were sooo relieved. But - it continued to grow, and finally we had it removed under total anesthesia at the veterinary hospital. Unfortunately - this time the biopsy came back positive for cancer. The horse had another good year with us, but finally became ill again, and we had to put him down. I don't know if the first invasive "digging around" made it worse or not, but if it were me, I think I would opt for the ultra-sound. Also, if I could go back in time, I might have tried some chemo-therapy or radiation treatments - I did not realize a horse does not get as sick as a human. We had just gone through lengthy treatments with my daughter (leukemia, bone marrow transplant - the works) - and she did not want to put her horse through something like that. Just some thoughts ... did not want to alarm you.

Lilo
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 9433
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Nov 9, 2003 - 8:20 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

You way over-read my post Angie, there are many swellings that may have fluid in the middle, including some tumors. You need to quit trying to quess what this may be with too little information and if a wait and see attitude does not work for you, pursue the steps necessary to nail this diagnosis down. I am suggesting some initial steps that will provide additional information, including where might be the best place to direct the needle for a biospy. If you find fluid in the middle the next steop would aspirate some to see what it is.
DrO
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 28
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Sunday, Nov 9, 2003 - 9:26 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr.O,

You are correct, I was thinking only in black or white here. Thinking back, I think it's very possible that this has been there for a lot longer than since this summer. I say that based on some of her eating actions, as I suspect this lump bugs her, like a enlarged tonsil would on us. Not serious, just annoying.

Thank you for setting me straight!

I will keep a close eye on it for now, and if the size of it, or her health changes, then follow your much appreciated advice.

Angie
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 29
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Sunday, Nov 9, 2003 - 9:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Elizabeth,

This was my first meeting with this vet. I didn't get the idea that she could do the needle biopsy then and there. This lady was wondeful, but the office seems to balk at their vets going out unless their are alot of stops in one area. So I thought (perhaps wrongly) that that was an "office call" only.

This is the horse I've owned the longest, but she is also the one who is supposed to be sold, if I ever get around to it. (waiting for my yearling to grow up) She is a one person horse, and not a "family" horse. I will not sell her "as is" if I am concerned about this at that time. Thus the reason for posting here looking for input.

Angie
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Angie Judson
Member
Username: Ajudson1

Post Number: 30
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Sunday, Nov 9, 2003 - 10:10 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Lilo,

My heart goes out to you. Sharing your story is part of healing. Thank you for sharing.

We all do what we think is best, based on diagonsis, finances and such. I've never dealt with anything like what you did, I don't know what I'd do. Having a non horse lover husband who brings home the paycheck, my guess is for this specific horse, she'd just be going over the rainbow bridge as painfree as possible.

Angie
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 287
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009 - 11:15 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrO

I am bringing this discussion back up because this mare is still with me, and 6 years later, she still has the swelling.

I'll try to recap here what we discussed 6 years ago:

Horse had swelling starting under ears, running along side jaw to throat. It is just on one side now.
She was not comfortable eating, stretching neck out, had fever, 102.

First Vet suggested trauma from pulling with halter on,(doubtful) 2nd vet found enlarged lymph node when horse was sedated for teeth floating. She didn't think this was a viral thing due to the amount of time it had been going on. She suggested watching it.

We did a course of antibiotics, not sure which ones.

The last few months now this horse been depressed, not eager to trot off with the rest at feeding time. She will walk, trot and canter when being rode, yet a few times she has just said "NO" and we just don't ride her those days. Seems to eating o.k., weight was down but now back up with additional feed. I know she needs teeth floated.

The swelling appears to be moving lower into her throat area. No nasal discharge. Seems to be stocking up some on all legs.

She is 20 now.

My reason for posting again is I want to have the vet out who did her teeth then, and checked her out 6 years ago. (I know she's been here since, can't remember when! I think 3 years ago...Willow was much perkier then because we didn't discuss this that I recall)

I need guidance on what questions to ask, tests to ask about? Blood work?

Hubby would rather put the horse in the ground, than run up vet expenses, so I need facts to argue my case! (wonderful husband, economy/political mess has him worried)

I would think this must be some kind of tumor to slowly grow over 6 years?

Where swelling is, I'll try to get a picture of her up.

Thank you.

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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 289
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009 - 7:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Took some pictures, coming up. When grooming and really checking her over, I found there is swelling on the right side too, but not as noticeable.

And of course she made a liar out of me tonight, she trotted and cantered with the rest following the hay tonight on the track.

Maybe she is just an "old" 20 year old horse?

Now I am 2nd guessing myself as to whether or not the swelling has increased or not. What I do know for sure is none of the other (3) horses exhibit any thing like this.

I tried to outline the swelling with chalk, so let's see if it shows up on picture.
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DianE
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 5076
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009 - 8:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie as good as you draw on hooves I'm surprised you didn't circle it So I took the liberty hope you don't mind. Did I circle the right spot? Is the line right above it going up to the base of her ear part of it? That is strange IF I am seeing what you are talking about. BTW she is CUTE!
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 290
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009 - 9:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Don't mind if you feel like drawing. I just didn't feel like doing that.

It goes up to the base of her ear. Can you see the chalk outline? The right side line is centered in the middle of your oval.

Ya, she's cute. And used to be a little powder keg to ride, much calmer now, but if it's because she's not feeling well I'd rather have my peppy horse back. She could still dump me or my daughter on a good day!
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Ladyhawk
Member
Username: sherryw

Post Number: 15
Registered: 4-2008
Posted on Thursday, Oct 15, 2009 - 9:30 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I run into this same area of swelling with one of my Morgan geldings and his seem to be allergy related (IMHO). Mostly occurs in April/early May but may happen again if they get into a different hay (regular bales vs round bales). What I have done with him is use a mix of equal amounts of garlic and spirulina and he gets 1 tablespoon in his feed in the morning. I started it early April this year and it was the first year that we had no problems with him. Evening going into the fall and switching to the round bales have not seemed to bother him yet. Don't know if this helps for your mare, but it did for our gelding. As a side note, I used this same mixture and same start time for a 14 year old Trekhaner (sp?) gelding that normally gets hives in the spring and he was hive free this year!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23933
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Oct 15, 2009 - 10:40 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Angie,
Going back and reading the earlier posts where a URT tract infection was the likely cause of the initial swelling suggests to me that the retropharyngeal lymph nodes healed with some scarring and remained enlarged do to this scar tissue. But for a specific diagnosis my earlier posts still apply.
DrO
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 293
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Thursday, Oct 15, 2009 - 4:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

LadyHawk,

What kind of garlic, spirulina do you use, and where do you get it from? I would be interested in trying that. I love both for my health, can't hurt for horse, might help.

Really irritates I've the same vet for 18 years and she's commented a few times that Willow looks a little droopy or some such comment, but offers no solution.

DrO,

Not sure who's earlier posts you were reading, but Willow never had any URT infection.
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Angie KJ
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 295
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Friday, Oct 16, 2009 - 7:14 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

DrO
Disregard that last sentence, I see what you were refering to. Thank you.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23939
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Oct 16, 2009 - 7:52 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie you describe possible trauma and infection in your first posts on this condition back in 2003 above in this discussion.
DrO
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23940
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Oct 16, 2009 - 7:53 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Opps sorry we cross posted above.
DrO
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