Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) have found increasingly strong evidence that the sense of smell diminishes sharply in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
This study confirms that a simple “sniff test” could help neurologists make their diagnosis because loss of smell is also useful in determining if a patient is suffering from mild cognitive impairmenta disease that often develops into Alzheimer’s disease after a few years.
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For their study, the researchers used a game sold commercially which offers to identify 16 of the most frequent odors. They offered this game to 728 elderly people who had already been seen by the neurologist and identified as being “in good health”, “suffering from mild cognitive impairment” or “suffering from Alzheimer’s disease”.
Comparing with the tests, they found that 87% of people with mild cognitive impairment suffered from a declining sense of smell. “We now hope to validate a shorter test in order to encourage more neurology clinics to opt for this type of screening” add the researchers.
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