If You Can’t Smell Bananas Dill Pickles Or Licorice Get Screened For Parkinson’s Now
Because of the symptom’s subtlety, many people don’t notice a change in their sense of smell until years after the symptom first begins, experts say. “Looking back, you may realize you were losing your sense of smell several years before you received a Parkinson’s diagnosis,” says the Parkinson’s Foundation. That’s why it may be useful to choose several strong-smelling foods and actively test your ability to detect them. “If you or someone you know has trouble smelling foods like bananas, dill pickles or licorice, ask your doctor about Parkinson’s,” the foundation recommends.
Olfaction In Differential Diagnosis
In secondary parkinsonism, study results also indicate a relationship between Parkinsonian symptoms and olfactory dysfunction. We found an association between medication-induced parkinsonism and olfactory dysfunction in patients with psychotic depression treated with D2-blocking neuroleptic drugs . Here, the severity of motor symptoms was positively correlated with the degree of olfactory dysfunction which might indicate patients with a latent basal ganglia dysfunction. Similar to the results seen in drug-induced parkinsonism, data from a recent study reveal that Wilson’s disease patients with neurological symptoms show a significant olfactory dysfunction compared to hepatic-type patients . Individuals who are more severely neurologically affected also present with more pronounced olfactory deficits. Based on these observations, olfactory testing should not be considered to differentiate PD from these specific conditions. However, olfactory testing has been shown to be important in cases where patients present with Parkinsonian features but with preserved olfaction. Here, it appears valid to question a diagnosis of PD.
Even A Modest Improvement Can Add Significant Benefit To The Lives Of Patients
Philpott says “that our sense of smell makes up more than 70%” of the flavours we experience , which could explain why losing this sense can affect a person’s appetite. This fits with the personal experiences of Clara O’Brien, an independent clinical neuropsychiatrist who helps individuals who have been diagnosed with neurological illnesses and brain injuries.
“Smell plays an important part in a patient lives many lose the enjoyment from activities that are a core part of their daily routine,” she says, explaining that she often finds that those close to her patients with smell loss say they have changed their behaviour, becoming more inward-looking, angry or withdrawn.
The Predict-PD smell test involves six everyday smells, and can help to identify people at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease .
Honglei Chen, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University, has identified another reason why smell may lead to increased mortality, that smell impairments are linked to an increased exposure to adverse environments.
On a neurological level, impairments in a person’s sense of smell can lead to long-lasting changes in the make-up of the brain. Areas of the brain that are involved in smell such as the olfactory bulb and piriform cortices shrink, but so do less obvious ones such as the anterior cingulate cortex which is important for motor control and rational thought, and the limbic system which is important for emotional processing.
Read Also: Parkinson’s Dry Mouth Treatment
Parkinson’s Disease Involves Degeneration Of The Olfactory System
Scientists discover anatomical link for the loss of smell in Parkinsons disease
The first symptom of Parkinson’s disease is often an impaired sense of smell. This neurodegenerative disease primarily causes irreparable damage to nerve cells in a brain area involved in movement control. How it affects the olfactory system has been unclear. Researchers at the Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics in Frankfurt and the University of Auckland in New Zealand have now carried out a study comparing the olfactory bulbs of individuals with and without Parkinsons disease. The researchers found that the total volume occupied by the functional units in the olfactory bulb the so-called glomeruli is in Parkinson’s cases only half that in normal individuals. Moreover, the distribution of the glomeruli within the olfactory bulb is altered in Parkinson’s cases.
Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites are filled with misfolded alpha-synuclein and are hallmark pathologies of brain tissue in Parkinson’s disease. The nuclei of olfactory bulb cells are visualized with a blue-fluorescent dye. The abnormal alpha-synuclein is visualized in red fluorescence by staining with a specific antibody.
The Woman Who Can Smell Parkinson’s Disease
Meet the woman from Perth whose super sense of smell could change the way Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed.
Joy Milne’s husband, Les, died in June, aged 65.
He worked as a consultant anaesthetist before being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 45.
One in 500 people in the UK has Parkinson’s – that is 127,000 across Britain.
It can leave people struggling to walk, speak and sleep. There is no cure and no definitive diagnostic test.
Joy noticed something had changed with her husband long before he was diagnosed – six years before.
She says: “His smell changed and it seemed difficult to describe. It wasn’t all of a sudden. It was very subtle – a musky smell.
“I got an occasional smell.”
Joy only linked this odour to Parkinson’s after joining the charity Parkinson’s UK and meeting people with the same distinct odour.
Edinburgh University decided to test her – and she was very accurate.
Dr Tilo Kunath, a Parkinson’s UK fellow at the school of biological sciences at Edinburgh University, was one of the first scientists Joy spoke to.
He says: “The first time we tested Joy we recruited six people with Parkinson’s and six without.
“We had them wear a t-shirt for a day then retrieved the t-shirts, bagged them and coded them.
“Her job was to tell us who had Parkinson’s and who didn’t.
“Her accuracy was 11 out of 12. We were quite impressed.”
Dr Kunath adds: “She got the six Parkinson’s but then she was adamant one of the ‘control’ subjects had Parkinson’s.
What Can You Do If You Have Pd
- Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy. This might include the following:
- A referral to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain
- Care from an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist
- Meeting with a medical social worker to talk about how Parkinson’s will affect your life
For more information, visit our Treatment page.
Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.
Thanks For Signing Up
We are proud to have you as a part of our community. To ensure you receive the latest Parkinsons news, research updates and more, please check your email for a message from us. If you do not see our email, it may be in your spam folder. Just mark as not spam and you should receive our emails as expected.
Also Check: Drugs For Parkinson’s Dementia
Losing My Sense Of Smell To Parkinson’s
Barrie talks about how losing his sense of smell was one of the first Parkinsons symptoms he experienced. We also meet Dr Clara O’Brien who talks about managing this symptom.
I was around 30 when I first went to the GP. I remember smelling something awful, like electrical burning an ionised, smouldering aroma.
It had happened a couple of times, until one day I lost my sense of smell completely.
My GP put it down to scuba diving when I was younger, and how the pressure may have damaged something. He said there was little they could do, and Id just have to get used to it.
Almost 20 years later, after developing a tremor in my finger, I was given a diagnosis of Parkinsons. It was only then that I found out the two were linked.
Your sense of smell affects your sense of taste, so I cant really taste things either. Ive mostly gotten used to it, but I have had to adapt the way I do things.
In the kitchen, Im a very heavy seasoner. You really need to love garlic and spice if you want to try my cooking. I live with my wife and grown-up daughter. My wife usually taste-tests things and deems if theyre passable for other people.
We have lots of carbon monoxide detectors in the house. It’s a worry, but you have to just deal with it.
Not having a sense of smell does have its advantages. Our dog creates some very bad odours, none of which I have to worry about. I also went to Glastonbury, and not being able to smell the toilets is nothing short of a super power.
Here’s What To Do If You Notice Hyposmia
Though there is no medication to treat a reduced sense of smell, some medical experts say that you may be able to regain some control over your olfactory functions by trying “smell training.” According to The New York Times, smell training is “involves sniffing several potent scents twice a day, sometimes for months, to stimulate and restore the olfactory systemor at the very least to help it function better.” Some studies have found that deep brain stimulation surgery may also have a positive effect on the symptom.
Additionally, those who notice hyposmia can take measures to ensure their safety, despite reduced olfactory function, says the European Parkinson’s Disease Association . These may include seeking nutritional advice to compensate for reduced hunger associated with loss of smell, labeling food clearly to avoid accidentally eating spoiled items, and installing fire, smoke, and gas alarms in the home.
For more health news sent directly to your inbox, .
Don’t Miss: Speech Therapy For Parkinson’s Disease
Losing Sense Of Smell
Most people do not connect losing their sense of smell to a Parkinson’s diagnosis. After developing motor symptoms and talking to a doctor, however, they may recall that years or even decades earlier their ability to smell decreased. This condition is called hyposmia and can impact quality of life affecting taste and, in some cases, leading to weight loss.
Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, can cause smell loss. But there are many other causes, too:
- Upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold
- Nasal problems, such as seasonal allergies or chronic sinus disease
- Head injury, if it damages the olfactory nerve or brains smell-processing centers
- Cigarette smoking
Loss Of Sense Of Smell
A common recollection by people who are diagnosed with Parkinsons is that they remember changes in their sense of smell several years before developing any tremor or other movement problems. But many people might not even recognise that their sense of smell is bad. It is only when tested that we see that up to 90% of people living with Parkinsons have lost their sense of smell.
Also Check: Do I Have Parkinson’s Disease Test
Parkinson’s Patients Often Experience Reduced Sensitivity To Smell
Losing one’s sense of smell can be an alarming symptom, and can have several explanations ranging from COVID to a cold. But experts say that few people realize that reduced sensitivity or loss of smell is also associated with Parkinson’s, which is more typically recognized for its motor symptoms.
“A reduced sensitivity to odors or a loss of smell is often an early symptom of Parkinson’s,” explains the American Parkinson Disease Association . “In fact, hyposmia and anosmia may be experienced months or even years before the traditional motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease emerge,” their experts add.
How Your Support Made This Research Project Possible
On the importance of funding from Parkinson Canada: Its the generous support for pilot grants that really helps us to come up with studies that have a certain statistical power, that allow us to look into our research question with a certain depth, Frasnelli says. This is crucial to allow us to go to the big granting agencies to apply for the larger grants.
This research follows a straightforward path from earlier research Frasnelli conducted to look at the electrophysiology of the brain and impairments that people with Parkinsons disease have in their olfactory system.
Frasnelli is also interested in following COVID-19 patients long-term, because of the fact many of them lose their sense of smell while infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is speculation, but it may be that in 10 or 20 years, we will see some patients that have COVID now will have Parkinsons symptoms.
Role Of Smell In The Pd Pathological Process And Relationship With The Microbiota
According to Braak’s model , the pathological process of PD starts at the same time in two sites, the olfactory bulb/anterior olfactory nucleus, and the enteric nerve cell plexuses. This pathogenic explanation is known as the dual-hit hypothesis. Constipation is actually another well-characterized, early prodromal manifestation of PD.
The alfa-synuclein pathology spreads in a caudal-rostral fashion from the lower brainstem through mid- and forebrain, up to the cerebral cortex in the final stages. Always according to this hypothesis , a yet unknown pathogen could be responsible for this stereotypical sequential damage of the nervous system areas, accessing the Central Nervous System via the olfactory bulb and the myenteric plexus of the enteric nervous system . Those two sites are especially vulnerable due to their lack of a blood brain barrier , that surrounds the CNS . This alleged pathogen could trigger neurodegeneration through a prion-like diffusion of misfolded proteins along neural pathways, or by provoking neuroinflammation leading to degeneration .
If You Cant Smell Bananas Dill Pickles Or Licorice Get Screened For Parkinsons Now
Because of the symptoms subtlety, many people dont notice a change in their sense of smell until years after the symptom first begins, experts say. Looking back, you may realize you were losing your sense of smell several years before you received a Parkinsons diagnosis, says the Parkinsons Foundation. Thats why it may be useful to choose several strong-smelling foods and actively test your ability to detect them. If you or someone you know has trouble smelling foods like bananas, dill pickles or licorice, ask your doctor about Parkinsons, the foundation recommends.
Also Check: Parkinson’s Disease And Essential Tremor
Prevalence And Character Of Olfactory Loss In Pd
According to a recent study by Politis et al. , olfactory loss belongs to the top-five most prevalent motor and nonmotor symptoms in early stage PD patients that have affected their quality of life. Only pain is referred to as a more prevalent troublesome nonmotor problem in this patient group.
In line with this result, virtually all studies performed since the 1970s have shown olfactory disturbances in PD patients. Published data on the prevalence of olfactory dysfunction in PD range from 45% and 49% in the pioneering studies of Ansari and Johnson , and Ward et al. , respectively, up to 74% in the work of Hawkes et al. , or as high as 90% in a study published by Doty et al. . In our recent multicentre study using a comprehensive testing method in a large sample of PD patients from 3 independent populations, the prevalence of olfactory dysfunction in people with PD was greater than previously reported with regard to norms obtained in healthy young subjects. More than 96% of PD patients were found to present with olfactory dysfunction. When using age-dependent normative criteria, 74.5% of this study population was diagnosed with olfactory loss . Furthermore, more than 80% of PD patients with smell loss were functionally anosmic or severely hyposmic regardless of the olfactory test being used for diagnosis. Only very few patients present with accompanying parosmia, or phantosmia.
Olfactory function in PD subtypes and multiple system atrophy .
What Do The Results Mean
The take-home message here is that “sniff tests” may be able to predict a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. That said, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
One is that a loss of smell can be due to other health problems besides Parkinson’s. Other neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s can cause smell disturbances, as can non-neurological conditions like chronic rhinosinusitis. This is why devising a smell test that is specific for PD is important, and researchers have not yet sorted this all out.
Secondly, “smell tests” must test for the correct smell disturbance. Simply saying a person has a loss of smell is rather vague. Perhaps one person has a hard time discriminating between odors while another cannot identify odors. Or a person may have a higher threshold for detecting odors.
With that, research suggests that in Parkinson’s, there is a favorable decline in odor identification, rather than odor detection, meaning they can “smell it,” but not say what it is.
Lastly, it’s critical to remember that a link or association is simply a connection or a finding based on statisticsit’s not 100 percent predictive of any one individual. In other words, a person could lose their sense of smell and never develop Parkinson’s disease. Likewise, there are people with Parkinson’s disease who retain their sense of smell.
You May Like: What’s The Difference Between Parkinson’s And Ms
Look Out For These Other Non
All too often, non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease go unrecognized. Experts say that besides reduced sensitivity to smell, there are several other non-motor symptoms you should look out for.
According to the APDA, those with Parkinsons may experience sleep problems, depression and anxiety, pain, psychosis, fatigue, sexual problems, vision loss, sweating, gastrointestinal issues, and more. If youre experiencing any of these problems, contact a medical professional as soon as possible to get to the bottom of whats causing your symptoms and either rule out or confirm a PD diagnosis.
RELATED: Drinking This Kind of Water Increases Your Parkinsons Risk, Studies Show.