Jul
09
2007

Do you smell Alzheimer’s coming?

Alzheimer's sniffer?: Are declining abilities to sense certain smells a sign that Alzheimer's disease is coming? Some researchers think it might be a possibility.
Alzheimer's sniffer?: Are declining abilities to sense certain smells a sign that Alzheimer's disease is coming? Some researchers think it might be a possibility.
While lost memories are the most evident sign of full-blown Alzheimer’s disease, new research is showing that our nose may be able to detect the onset of the dreaded condition.

A new study is targeting our sense of smell as being one of the first things to be impacted by Alzheimer’s. An easy scratch-and-sniff test might be the key to discovering the start of the condition in a person.

Through a five-year study, 150 people with memory loss had their noses’ effectiveness tested and compared with similar results in 63 healthy adults. The test was to have all of them identify ten specific smells – lemon, strawberry, smoke, soap, menthol, clove, pineapple, natural gas, lilac and leather.

What the researchers found was that the same percentage of people who had difficulty identifying the smells matched closely to the same percentage of people who develop Alzheimer’s through research that’s conducted by using MRI scans to measure brain volume loss.

While there’s not a direct correlation between the smell test and brain testing, researchers think it could be a good tool for doctors to use in monitoring the possible start of Alzheimer’s. Patients who do poorly on the smell test could go through more extensive testing that might find some early signs of the disease.

And while there is no cure, there are drugs and treatments that can slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s in the body. The sooner signs of the condition are discovered, the quicker slow-down action can be taken.

How does this all smell to you? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This really does scare me. I am 43 years old and I have had fever blisters since I was a teenager. And still get them. Also, both of my grandmothers had Alzheimers. I hope they find a cure and quickly.

posted on Thu, 03/05/2009 - 6:40pm

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