‘Smell Test’ Could Yield Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease – Study

‘Smell Test’ Could Yield Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease – Study
Using our sense of smell. VSPYCC / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Since the time Alzheimer’s disease was discovered by a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist in 1901, diagnosing the disease has been difficult for most clinicians. But a recent study suggests that the most common type of dementia can be easily detected by using a simple smell test.


Based on a new study presented before the recently held Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2016 on Tuesday, a person’s declining sense of smell could yield useful insights on one’s cognitive decline.

Early Signs

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease characterized by memory loss and declining cognitive abilities. Seniors aged 60 and above are at risk, which increases with age.

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Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations of the Alzheimer’s Association, said that new studies can help improve current diagnostic measures screening practices used today.

Snyder said that early detection plays a vital role in improving treatment and intervention measures for individuals battling with the disease. These new screening procedures could further improve Alzheimer’s disease treatment and improve lives of individuals diagnosed at the onset of the disease, CNN reported.

One of the groups of researchers that presented their studies during the conference were the researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center, claiming that the use of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) has been useful, effective, and affordable in detecting early stage of the disease.

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The researchers came up with their findings by studying 397 older adults with an average age of 80 years old who do not show signs of dementia. After five years, 50 participants developed Alzheimer’s, while 20 percent showed signs of cognitive decline.

The study found that those who scored low on the UPSIT, or those with who can poorly identify odors, have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

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