Frank adds that because smells don’t have to be identified as part of the Sniff Magnitude Test, the test can be used on adults as well as children (who may be too young to link a smell with a name) and people representing international cultures (who are unfamiliar with some common odors in the U.S.). “What’s also unique about this test is that it does not require a good memory, which is an issue in testing people with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia-related disease,?Frank says. “For instance, other tests ask, ‘Does this smell like garlic??or, ‘Does this smell like tar, or roses??Once there’s a problem with memory, this kind of test would be difficult.?
So what does it mean if a child, or someone unlikely to have an age-related disease, flunks the sniff test? “If they fail our test, that’s a pretty good indication that there’s something wrong with their sense of smell. Maybe there’s an obstruction ?a deviated septum or polyps,?Frank says. “Perhaps the olfactory nerve has been damaged due to a head injury or a viral infection.?
For those who are proud of their keen sense of smell, this is not a test to tickle their senses. Because the really nasty smells worked best for the Sniff Magnitude Test, Frank says the test subjects get a whiff of three odors: a blend of ripe cheese and rancid meat, a fragrance that combines a burning smell with a skunk-like smell, and amyl acetate, which smells like banana. “You have to get people to really suppress the sniff and that’s why the bad odors work so well,?explains Frank. “To a certain extent, we put the banana smell in there to give them a little break.?
Frank adds that his current research is exploring the patterns of loss of smell that could be an indicator of Alzheimer’s. He says the Sniff Magnitude Test is also getting a look by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago as part of a major epidemiological study on aging, Alzheimer’s disease and sense
Source:University of Cincinnati