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Chem Senses. 2006 Oct;31(8):763-71. Epub 2006 Aug 10.

Olfactory ability in the healthy population: reassessing presbyosmia.

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland 4111, Australia.


Age-associated loss of olfactory function, or presbyosmia, has been described in many studies of olfactory ability. Presbyosmia has been ascribed to idiopathic causes despite recognition that many neurodegenerative diseases also induce loss of olfactory function and increase in incidence in the aged population. Often this olfactory loss is unnoticed or unreported by affected individuals. More effective olfactory function in women compared with men is another common feature of many studies of olfactory function. Here we report on normative data from an Australian population study (n = 942) that has been divided into 2 subpopulations and reassessed as (included) a population of healthy, nonmedicated, nonsmokers with no history of nasal problems (n = 485) and (excluded) a population of participants who were either medicated, smokers or had a history of nasal problems (n = 457). The "included" data set shows a strong relationship between self-reporting of olfactory sensitivity and olfactory function score. The included data set shows a small but significant decline in olfactory ability after 65 years of age and better olfactory function in females compared with males. Data from the excluded population show a marked decline in olfactory ability after 65 years of age, no difference between males and females, and a weak relationship between self-reporting of olfactory function and actual olfactory function. The power of this approach is that it provides a normative data set against which many factors such as medication schedules and pathological conditions can be compared.

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