Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine have found that using a simple “sniff test” could boost the accuracy of diagnosing cognitive impairment.
Scientists are already aware that individuals in early stages of Alzheimer’s find their sense of smell quickly deteriorates. Researchers found that when administering standard cognitive tests, adding a sniff test in which subjects must try to identify different odors, increases the accuracy of diagnosing mild cognitive impairment, adults in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as identifying healthy adults.
While current, commercially available sniff tests are a bit cumbersome to administer, the researchers hope that with the development of simpler tests, this could become a regular addition to a physician’s diagnostic toolkit for identifying cognitive impairment and those individuals potentially at risk of developing more serious dementia.
The sniff test could lead to more accurate early diagnosis, which could provide patients an increased opportunity to benefit from currently available medications that do not work as well for those with more advanced dementia.