Scent-based Diagnostic Test for Alzheimer’s Disease Becomes More Viable

Posted on December 29, 2016 by Disability Help Group

One of the lesser-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of brain abnormalities is loss of sense of smell. Studies have shown that a person’s sense of smell diminishes adjacent with the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers are looking to establish a new diagnostic test that measures patients’ sense of smell while investigating the potential for Alzheimer’s.

The latest test of this diagnostic method involved 728 older adults at various stages of cognitive health. Of those, 292 were healthy, 262 had Alzheimer’s, and 174 had mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

For the study, published in the Journal for Alzheimer’s Disease, the researchers tested the participants’ sense of smell using the Sniffin’ Sticks Odor Identification Test (SS-OIT). The test asked the participants to identify 16 common smells in addition to standard cognitive tests.

Combining the SS-OIT and standard cognitive testing for Alzheimer’s notably increased the accuracy of diagnosing patients with Alzheimer’s or MCI. Cognitive testing alone confirmed the diagnoses at 75 percent accuracy while including the SS-OIT increased the accuracy to 87 percent.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and MCI is an important step in getting treatment and improving the quality of life of patients. As diagnostic methods and accuracy improve, doctors hope to improve the outcome for patients with these conditions.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Impairment Can Occur at Any Age

While general knowledge defines Alzheimer’s disease as an older age condition, early onset Alzheimer’s and other types of cognitive impairment can strike much younger adults. If Alzheimer’s or another cognitive impairment is keeping you from holding a job, you might be entitled to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

If you have questions about applying for disability benefits or appealing a decision, the Disability Help Group is here to help. Call 800-800-2009 to schedule a consultation with our team of disability advocates.