A new research suggests that people who cannot identify common odors may have developed dementia as the loss of the sense of smell is a strong indicator that severe brain damage has been done.
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.
Lead author Jayant M.Pinto is confident that the quick smell test can pinpoint patients at a high risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease.
During the tests, scientists asked study participants to identify the scents on five “Sniffin’ Sticks,” one at a time. Participants with a high risk of dementia had major troubles with identifying peppermint. The next in line were rose, leather, fish, and orange.
Around 78% participants recognized only four scents, 14% identified only three, and 5% only two.
Smell Tests Could Lead to an Early Diagnosis
After five years, a majority of these people were diagnosed with dementia. In those who recognized only one or two odors, 80 percent had the disease.
The research team noted that the sense of smell just like the sensory function can signal problems with the brain function and health. These two factors could help doctors diagnose dementia in its early stages. However, researchers couldn’t explain the newly found association between the sense of smell and dementia risk. They explained that understanding link is necessary for the development of new treatments.
Pinto underlined that the sense of smell may be the most “undervalued” human sense, and people start appreciating it when it’s gone. Losing the sense of smell is not only an inconvenience but a safety risk too. Without it, one cannot tell if the food is spoiled or detect fire or gas leaks in their home.
Image Source: Pixabay