Loss of Smell in Alzheimer's Disease?

AnnieILDecember 6, 2003

Has anyone noticed this symptom (loss of smell) prior to the onset of Alzheimer's Disease? I have come across this in three cases--a cousin's husband, my neighbor's husband and my own husband. It seems to precede the Alzheimer's by several years. I read an article this week that they have found "loss of smell" in Schizophrenia. So the smell receptors must be near the areas that affect Alzheimers and Schizophrenia for that reason. My purpose in asking is: if researchers could confirm this link, perhaps family physicians might begin to treat Alzheimer's long before it would show symptoms, and the medications might be more effective. Just wondering. Annieil

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Partial or complete loss of sense of smell is common in many older persons, not just those in early Alzheimer's stages.

Sometimes it's a zinc deficiency.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2003 at 9:55AM
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I agree with lazygardens. Loss of smell is a common problem with the elderly. Food doesn't even taste the same because it doesn't smell the same. It starts at different ages.

It's very doubtful if you could tie Alzheimers and loss of smell together. Smokers or those around smokers lose it even earlier than non-smokers. People who work with certain chemicals are the same way. After breathing in the fumes from paint and solvents for years, painters are usually zonked out in the olfactory areas.

Of course, there are always exceptions.

It would be a great thing if it were possible to tie this theory down. But I doubt if it could be accurate enough to warrent medicating people just on the chance that they MIGHT get Alzheimers.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2003 at 1:29PM
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Interesting. Were each of these people in the same line of work, perhaps? Or have anything in common? The problem with Alzheimer's is that an autopsy is the only surefire way to diagnose it. They can do extensive testing, etc. but won't know for sure unfortunately until after the patient dies. There are so many forms of dimentia besides just Alzheimer's so who knows.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2003 at 10:26PM
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Hmmmmm.....that makes me a little nervous. I lost most of my taste and smell in l989, after a viral infection. I sure miss it. :(

    Bookmark   January 16, 2004 at 7:21AM
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To answer in short, yes. I've taught this in Intro to Gerontology for several years now. Still a lot of work to be done to refine the science but you are right that it is now seen as an indicator.

Link is to a fairly good lay article on the subject.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sense of Smell and Dementia

    Bookmark   January 16, 2004 at 2:32PM
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