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J Gerontol. 1993 Jan;48(1):M26-32.

Age, gender, medical treatment, and medication effects on smell identification.

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  • 1Clinical Investigations and Patient Care Branch, National Institute of Dental Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.


Olfactory function diminishes with increasing age, which may impact on the safety and quality of life of older persons. This study examined the influence of age, gender, medical treatment, and medications on smell identification in a group of generally healthy individuals. Males (n = 221) and females (n = 166) between the ages of 19 and 95 years, from the oral physiology component of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, were administered the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test [UPSIT; (1)]. Older subjects had lower UPSIT scores, were more likely to be anosmic, and more often complained about their sense of smell and taste compared to younger subjects. Females had higher UPSIT scores compared to males. Although these age and gender effects are comparable to previous findings, performance among all subjects was superior to other studies; this is attributable, in part, to the overall healthy status of the population. Subjects being treated for medical problems and taking prescription medications had slightly lower UPSIT scores and more smell and taste complaints compared to other subjects, but these findings did not achieve statistical significance. Results suggest that age-related declines in olfaction occur as a part of the normal physiological aging process.

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