Horses with sweet itch have an immune reaction to the saliva of midges. Many horses are bitten by midges but only some have this reaction. That's commonly the case with immune reactions - the trigger (in this case midge saliva) may be present but it doesn't always cause an immune reaction. There is a threshold to be passed before the immune response kicks in. Reducing the concentration of the trigger (by for example use of a sweet-itch rug or cover to protect against midge bites) can bring it down below the threshold level. But different horses have different thresholds and it may be very difficult to reduce the trigger to a sufficiently low level.
It is thought that in humans sustained stress acts to lower the threshold for immune reactions. The mechanisms for this are not properly understood and indeed there is much we don't understand about immune reactions.
At Equine Breathing we believe that horses that are over-breathing are placing a continuous stress on their bodies and owners of sweet itch sufferers commonly report that the horse breathes heavily or even has breathing difficulties. It may be that the beneficial effects on sweet itch reported by owners using the Equine Breathing training is related to the general improvement in the physiology of the horse as the stresses of over breathing diminish.
This remains conjecture and each horse is different but as some owners report positive results you may wish to try Equine Breathing to see for yourself if your horse benefits using the free instructions for the IN method
What is Equine Breathing? Here's a brief overview and intro video
You can sometimes tell if your horse is over-breathing. The nostrils will be wide and move with each breath and their breathing may be audible. In normal breathing the nostril is slit shaped, there is no movement at rest and the breathing is silent. More on signs of over breathing.