A simple smell test could provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify those at high risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” is a willing test subject for the Alzheimer’s peanut butter test.
Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s disease or a related form or dementia, but only 1 in 4 people with the disease is diagnosed.
Smell Test Protocol
Testing for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can be time-consuming, costly and invasive. In contrast, this University of Florida study used a simple peanut butter test:
- Patient: Closed his/her eyes and mouth. Then blocked one nostril.
- Clinician: Opened the peanut butter container (one tablespoon).
- Clinician: Held the ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally.
- Clinician: Moved the peanut butter up the ruler one centimeter at a time during the patient’s exhale until the person could detect an odor.
- Clinician: Recorded the distance.
- After 90 seconds, the procedure was repeated on the other nostril.
- The study revealed dramatic differences between the left and right nostril in patients with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.
- In patients with other kinds of dementia, there were either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one.
- When smelling the peanut butter, the left nostril in the Alzheimer’s patients could not detect the smell of the peanut butter until it was an average of 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) closer to the nose than the right nostril had detected the smell. *A normally functioning olfactory nerve can detect odors at about 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) from the test agent.
* See your physician if you lose your sense of smell. *
Validated Five-Item Test for Dementia
In University of Chicago Medical Center study, nearly 3,000 adults, aged 57 to 85, had to identify five odors (peppermint, fish, orange, rose, and leather). During a five-year follow-up, those that could not identify at least four out of the five odors were found to be more than twice as likely to develop dementia.
* The smell test marks someone who needs closer monitoring and further testing. *