One of the earliest symptoms of detection of Alzheimer’s disease is loss of smell. This was revealed by a study published in JAMA Neurology. It was conducted on a few elderly people. It was found that they were at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those with normal smell.
About 1400 people above the age of 79 were a part of this study. They were subjects without any mental health problems. They were made to smell different things like gasoline, onion, turpentine, paint thinner and banana. Four options were given for them to choose each answer after making them smell these things.
These elderly people were followed for a period of 3.5 years. Out of the 1400 people, about 250 of them showed mild cognitive impairment development, mostly issues relating to judgment and memory. Such impairments can cause dementia or other mental problems. Out of the 250 people, about 64 were found to have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
After the smell test it was found that those people with the worst result had a 2.2 times higher chance of developing cognitive impairment. With this result it was concluded that bad smell could be one of the first signs of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those people who had a better sense of smell were also found to have a good chance of improving from any mental health conditions.
Rosebud Roberts of Mayo clinic, a professor of neurology was heading this research. He concluded that dementia and cognitive impairment can be detected early and used to prevent Alzheimer’s condition.
Why is this test effective?
It is because Alzheimer’s and dementia affects those parts of the brain which is responsible for the sense of smell. Thus, early detection is encouraged as this can lead to better treatment for Alzheimer’s. It is a very useful test, especially for the old people.
However, it needs to be taken care that a low sense of smell does not always mean dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It can be there due to other problems like respiratory conditions or chronic sinusitis.
This study is revolutionary and it can lead to better diagnosis of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. 10 out of 25 elderly people suffer from some kind of cognitive impairment and this should be used for early detection and diagnosis.
However, more studies need to be conducted to confirm the relation between dementia and the sense of smell.
Source: Mr Healthy Life