Lost your smelling sense? Risk of death in 4 years, Warns expert


Smelling ability (Photo courtesy: www.biologyjunction.com)

Lost your smelling capabilities of certain odours? Then it’s time you consult your doctor immediately as people who are unable to smell certain odours in their old age can be at the risk of death, says a US-based study.

Davangere Devanand, an Indian-American researcher, with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, says those who fail to identify certain odours had an increased risk of dying within four years on an average, he said.

Based on a study of 1169 medicare beneficiaries were asked to sniff odorant strips and chose the best answer from four multiple choice answers in the list. Based on their answers, the mortality rate was 45% in participants with the lowest scores on a 40-item smell test, compared with 18% of participants with the highest scores.

“The increased risk of death increased progressively with worse performance in the smell identification test and was highest in those with the worst smelling ability, even after adjusting for medical burden and dementia,” said Devanand, an alumni of the Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

Even those who are younger but face problem in identifying the right smell are at high risk as they grow older,” said Devanand, who completed psychiatry residency training at NIMHANS, Bangalore.

After completing a clinical research fellowship at Columbia University, he became its faculty since 1987 and continued his research on clinical features and treatment response in elderly patients with dysthymic disorder, a chronic depressive illness.

A recipient of the American Psychiatric Association’s Jack Weinberg Memorial Award in Geriatric Psychiatry, Devanand has over 240 research publications and three books to his credit, including “The Memory Program”.

His latest study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

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