Bad sense of smell can indicate Alzheimer's disease years before the first symptoms appear
Many people suffer from Alzheimer's disease at an advanced age. Researchers have now found that, in healthy older people, reduced odor identification can be a practical and affordable biomarker in Alzheimer's pathology.
In their research, McGill University researchers found that people with difficulty identifying odors often have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Neurology".
Difficulty identifying smells is a clear biological indicator of Alzheimer's
The symptoms of dementia are not only associated with a memory loss, but depending on the type of dementia they can affect the affected person differently. A difficult identification of smells is a clear purely biological indicator for Alzheimer's, say the experts. There is growing evidence that neurological damage to the brain can affect people's perception of environmental stimuli. This could also affect the sense of smell, the scientists add.
Changes in the brain can appear 20 to 30 years before the first symptoms
In order to find a possible connection between odor and dementia, it must also be borne in mind that problems with the identification of odors can also indicate many other medical conditions. In addition to the connection between the loss of so-called olfactory perception and the development of dementia, the experts at McGill University found that the pathological changes in the brain can occur 20 to 30 years before the first symptoms.
Symptoms for Alzheimer's are often interpreted as part of natural aging
Sometimes people don't realize that such symptoms can indicate health problems. Many people mistakenly assume that such behavior is a normal part of the aging process, doctors add. Symptoms can develop slowly and go unnoticed for a long period of time.
People with dementia need our support
Unfortunately, research is still far from a simple test to detect dementia at an early stage. However, timely diagnosis is important for effective treatment. Access to early intervention, treatment and support can make a huge difference in treating dementia. This applies to those affected, nursing staff and family members, the scientists explain. With some support, people with dementia can continue to do many things that they did before diagnosing their condition.
Cases of dementia will continue to increase in the future
Without sustained research into the disease and a medical breakthrough in the prevention, treatment and diagnosis of dementia, dementia diseases will increase massively in the future. The care and support of people with dementia is therefore one of the greatest health challenges of our time, the scientists explain. However, there are currently only a small number of medications that can have a positive effect on the symptoms of dementia. In addition, there are very few cognitive tests, brain scans, and studies of genetic markers that can indicate the presence of dementia, the doctors add.
The quality of life of people with dementia must be maintained
Since there is no cure for dementia, it must be ensured that people with dementia are able to live with the best quality of life. Medical research is an important part of finding ways to slow or even stop the progression of dementia at best. (as)