Alzheimer's disease facts, symptoms & treatment: reduced sense of smell can be an indicator of early dementia

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A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic indicates that losing your sense of smell may be used an early indicator for Alzheimer's disease. The results of the study have been published in the JAMA Neurology journal.

"Clinical implications of our findings are that odor identification tests may have use for early detection of persons at risk of cognitive outcomes," the study concluded.
Newsmax notes some doctors use the "Peanut Butter Test" to casually determine a patient's ability to smell odors. Individuals who were unable to catch the robust odor of Jif or Skippy were likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's.
"The findings suggest that doing a smell test may help identify elderly, mentally normal people who are likely to progress to develop memory problems or, if they have these problems, to progress to Alzheimer's dementia," Rosebud Roberts told Medical News Today. Roberts is one of the researchers from the Mayo Clinic.
"Physicians need to recognize that this may be a possible screening tool that can be used in the clinic," she added.
The researchers believe that early detection of the disease can help doctors delay the effects or prevent mild cases of Alzheimer's.
A total of 1,430 cognitively seniors were included in the study with follow-ups conducted within three and a half years. The participants were asked to identify the smells of six foods and six nonfoods including "banana, chocolate, cinnamon, gasoline, lemon, onion, paint thinner, pineapple, rose, soap, smoke, and turpentine."
After conducting the follow-up, 250 individuals exhibited more difficulty in distinguishing smells and were found to have mild cognitive impairment. Through the results of this study, the researchers were able to show a relationship between the patient's ability to detect smells and their risk for amnestic mild cognitive impairment.
"These findings may indicate that there could be a problem linked to neurodegenerative diseases in general," James Hendrix said on US News. Hendrix works at the Alzheimer's Association as the global science initiatives director.
"Our ability to sense smell doesn't just reside in our nose, there are receptors that are activated in our brains. We need to have a healthy brain to fully smell the world around us," Hendrix continued.
Hendrix cautioned that it is too early to use the smell test as the definitive way of detecting early Alzheimer's or dementia. As mentioned by Roberts on US News, the study did not delve into individuals who have chronic breathing problems.
Watch this video to get a better understanding about what it's like to have Alzheimer's disease.


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