People Who Fail to Identify These Common Smells May Have Dementia

HealthLifestyleLoss of sense of smell early sign of dementia Joe Mellor

For their research, researchers at the University of Chicago monitored 3,000 volunteers with the average age of 71 and found that people who fail to recognize four out of five common odors are twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia than people who can identify all five smells.

Five years after the initial test, nearly every participant who was unable to name any of the smells had been diagnosed with dementia.

And almost 80 per cent of those who could only name one or two scents had also developed the disease.

Older people with a poor sense of smell have a greater chance of developing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, U.S. research has shown.

He explains that losing one's sense of smell is a strong indicator of "significant damage", and that this "simple smell test could provide a quick and affordable way to identify those who are already at high risk".

Dr. Pinto suggests that smell is the most "undervalued and underappreciated" of the human senses, "until its gone".

"Our test simply marks someone for closer attention", Pinto explained.

More research needs to be done on the sniff test before it can make its way into your doctor's office, but the hope is that it can eventually be used to detect people who are at risk of dementia before they develop other signs.

It is why there is a so-called "peanut butter test" for people with Alzheimer's who are less able to sniff out the spread from a distance. Then, they can undergo early-stage prevention trials to see if newer research can help stall the brain disease.

Over the years, scientists have studied the disease thoroughly and have often found signs other than loss of memory that can signal the onset of dementia.

Almost eight out of 10 people tested were normal, identifying at least four scents. Meanwhile, 14 percent could only recognize three out of five smells, five percent identified only two scents, two percent only one scent and one percent couldn't recognize any of the scents.

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"These results show that the sense of smell is closely connected with brain function and health", says Prof.

"We need to understand the underlying mechanisms so we can understand neurodegenerative disease and hopefully develop new treatments and preventative interventions".

"This simple smell test could provide a quick and low-cost way to identify those who are already at high risk".

The vast majority of those tested, 78 per cent, had a "normal" sense of smell and could accurately identify the scents.

Dementia is the most common forms of Alzheimer's disease and is an age-related mental condition, triggered by loss of memory and outlined with rapid and seemingly unprovoked mood swings and unecessary aggression.

The olfactory nerve is the only cranial nerve directly exposed to the environment.

Pinto added that losing the ability to smell can have a detrimental impact on a persons health and wellbeing.

"Being unable to smell is closely associated with depression as people don't get as much pleasure in life".

The cells that detect smells connect directly with the olfactory bulb, at the base of the brain.

Fellow researcher, Professor Martha McClintock, also from Chicago University, said: "This evolutionarily ancient, special sense may signal a key mechanism that also underlies human cognition".

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