Sniff out Alzheimer’s disease!

When I smell chocolate I would remember the times when my grandpa would indulge me with Hershey’s chocolate bar every time I came to visit him. He would always tell me stories about how his dad never game him chocolate and that he never wanted to do that to me. Chocolate is such a common smell that everyone can identify it when they walk past a candy store or just walking down the grocery store aisle that featured all sorts of chocolate bars. But what would happen if you smell chocolate and can’t remember what it is? I would be devastated if I found out that my grandpa wasn’t able to remember what chocolate smelled like, because I think of him every time I smelled it.

Studies completed by doctors show that a scratch-and-sniff tests could help predict risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Elderly people who have a difficult time identifying smell such as lemon, banana and cinnamon may have the first sign of Alzheimer’s. There’s really no ways to identify when a person is developing Alzeimer’s, so this scratch-and-sniff test could be key in helping doctors all over the world diagnose this disease. Researchers have considered that the hallmark of Alzheimer does first appear in the brain region important to the sense of smell.

In the study, 600 people between the ages of 54 and 100 where chosen to ask to identify common smells such a onions, lemon, cinnamon, black pepper, chocolate (my favorite!), roses, bananas, pineapples and the list goes on! For each scent, the participant was provided four answers to choose from.

With 12 scents given during the test, people who many at least or more than four errors were 50 percent more likely to develop problems then people who made no more than one error. Having a difficult time identifying odors was associated with a higher risk of progressing from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s.

It would sadden me if I were to ever find out that my own grandpa had forgotten the smell of chocolate! Or even myself when I get older! Our sense of smell can trigger past memories and for that to suddenly end…..rips me apart from the inside. Our memories are the only thing besides pictures and videos that hold valuable, loving memories of our lives and past loved ones.

So why don’t all doctors provide a scratch-and-sniff test to all their elderly patients when they have their routine check-up? I know I would want my grandpa to take this test because the last thing I want for him is to develop Alzheimer’s.

References: Bad sense of smell may be first Alzheimer’s sign

 

By Tin Dao

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