Dementia is an incurable disease, but early detection can significantly impact treatment and care. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, leads to a progressive decline in mental function.
Patients experience a deterioration in learning and thinking skills, short-term memory, spatial orientation, visual perception, attention, information processing, and judgment.
In advanced stages, individuals require constant care as they struggle with even basic tasks. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases with age, affecting around a third of individuals aged 85 and older.
Losing your sense of smell may be an early warning sign of dementia
A study conducted at the University of Chicago suggests that loss of smell can serve as an early indicator of the disease. Since memory plays a crucial role in identifying scents, researchers focused on evaluating the sense of smell among 515 adults.
The aim was to develop a smell test similar to vision and hearing tests, enabling individuals to recognize potential warning signs, such as a diminished ability to detect the fragrance of shampoo and soap while showering.
Senior research editor, Jayant M. Pinto, a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago specializing in olfactory and sinus diseases, highlighted the significance of the study’s findings. According to Pinto, “This study provides another clue to how a rapid decline in the sense of smell is a really good indicator of what’s going to end up structurally occurring in specific regions of the brain.”
He added, “We were able to show that the volume and shape of grey matter in olfactory and memory-associated areas of the brains of people with rapid decline in their sense of smell were smaller compared to people who had less severe olfactory decline.”
Detecting dementia at its earliest stages can greatly improve the chances of managing the disease effectively. While a cure for dementia remains elusive, identifying warning signs like a decline in the sense of smell can contribute to timely intervention and appropriate care.