Discover: Loss of Smell Identification Linked to Dementia, Parkinson’s

The nerves in our nasal cavity send signals to our brain to alert us to what we’re smelling. As we age, our sight, hearing and sense of smell diminishes. When we lose our ability to distinguish one odor from another, say vanilla versus cinnamon, it can be an early sign of dementia or Parkinson’s disease, a 2018 study in Current Asthma and Allergy Reports and a 2016 study in Neurology found.

We can lose our sense of smell temporarily, such as from a viral infection like cold, flu or COVID-19, but it usually returns. Poor odor identification in adults – the ability to distinguish one scent from another versus the overall ability to smell – has been linked to a significant increase in the risk of later dementia, according to a 2020 study in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

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