In a study using data from nearly 1,200 older adults, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers added more evidence that loss of smell is a predictor of aging risk. People. Building on previous research that showed olfactory dysfunction is a common early sign of brain-related cognitive decline, the new findings suggest the link with weakness may not only be in the brain but also in the nose itself.
If further studies confirm these findings, the researchers say, screening older adults’ ability to odor Different scents can be as important as hearing and vision testing from time to time.
The results of the study, published in Journal of Geriatrics: Series Alook at the popularity of weaka syndrome of age-related physiological decline, along with two different measures of smell: olfactory sensitivity (the ability to detect the presence of odors) and olfactory recognition (the ability to detect and name a smell).
Olfactory recognition is a central measure of olfactory function, is associated with frailty, and relies on higher-order cognitive processing to interpret and classify odors. This suggests that neural function may help explain the relationship between smell and weakness. However, the researchers say the ability to detect odors only without the use of higher-level neural processes, and that the relationship between smell-only detection and weakness has been well-studied. .
“We use our smell to identify fire hazards or to enjoy floral scents on a spring day. But just like vision and hearing, this sense weakens as we age,” said Nicholas Rowan, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and corresponding author of the study for know.
“We found that both impaired olfactory recognition and sensitivity are associated with frailty, which is exciting because it shows that it’s not just your aging brain that’s getting worse. working here, but it could also be something peripheral, like something up to your nose, that could predict our weakness and impending death.”
Rowan commented that although these findings in older adults add to the body of literature that the sense of smell may be a sign of weakness and impending death, the relationship of sensory loss This unique relationship with unhealthy aging over time is not clear.
What is clear, he noted, is that common consequences of loss of smell include loss of appetite, difficulty keeping track of personal hygiene, depression, and an inability to detect toxic fumes. In older adults, this may be related to losing weightmalnourished, frail, inadequate personal care and even potentially injured from a gas leak or fire.
In the United States, the population of older adults is estimated to double over the next three decades, prompting efforts to sort out which older adults are most likely to suffer from depression, a clear sign of impending death. occurs compared to those without the disease. The new study used a standard assessment of frailty (known as the Physical Weakness Phenotype, or PFP, score) that looked at five signs: weight loss, exhaustion, weakness, speed slow walking and little physical activity.
To examine the relationship between frailty and the sense of smell, the team analyzed data from 1,160 older adults who participated in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project between 2015 and 2016. The mean age of the subjects was 76 and 55.7% were female. Participants were exposed to five scents to measure olfactory recognition and six to measure sensitivity. The result is then matched to the subject’s weak point.
The researchers concluded that for every one point increase in both olfactory recognition scores and sensitivity, weakness was significantly and significantly reduced, implying that improved sense of smell was related to status improved health and resilience of old outcomes. Conversely, the worse the sense of smell, the weaker the subject, suggesting that loss of smell may be a measurable biomarker and potential risk factor for adult frailty. year old.
On the matter of actual medical care, Rowan said the findings mean that odor tests could become part of routine screening as a way to identify the risk of unhealthy aging. someone’s strengths and suggest whether further testing for cognition and other conditions is needed.
“We’ve done tests to gauge our vision or hearing, and it’s just as easy to conduct a simple odor test that takes just a few minutes, which can be used as a powerful tool. valuable for assessing the risk of frail or unhealthy aging,” says Rowan. “For example, if someone fails an odor test, the patient may need to improve their nutrition or undergo a more detailed medical or neurological examination.”
In an effort to answer this question, Rowan and his colleagues from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Independent Aging Americans Claude D. Pepper are actively investigating whether more detailed odor tests might help. researchers and clinicians alike in identifying physiologically vulnerable sites. Elderly.
Rowan notes that these results are especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused long-lasting loss of smell for millions of people. “The really interesting question, though, is what happens to these novel relationships when you seek to treat anorexia,” he says.
Nimesh V Nagururu et al., Association of peripheral and central olfactory bulb with impairment in older adults, Journal of Geriatrics: Series A (2022). DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glac237
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
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