An early dementia diagnosis can open the door to future care and treatment, and spotting symptoms is key for this. There’s currently no cure for dementia, but it can be managed better if medical intervention and advice is sought in the early stages.
Research shows there are more than 944,000 people in the UK with dementia, and the number is expected to rise in the coming years. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, followed by vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.
The NHS says dementia symptoms may include problems with memory loss, thinking speed, mental sharpness and quickness, mood, and difficulties doing daily activities. But these well known symptoms are not the only signs to look out for – loss of smell could also be a possible warning.
The symptom could identify the condition in the first stages, according to research, and could be noted when taking a shower.
A study carried out by researchers at the University of Chicago found a sharp decline in a person’s sense of smell may be an early indication of dementia.
This is because memory is vital when it comes to a person’s ability to recognise scents.
As part of the study, researchers analysed the sense of smell in 515 older adults in the hopes of developing smell-test screening, similar to sight and hearing tests.
The scientist suggest these tests could be useful in encouraging people to keep an eye out for potential warning signs, which could include decreased ability to smell your shampoo and shower gel when bathing.
Senior author Jayant M. Pinto, professor of surgery at the University of Chicago who studies olfactory and sinus disease, said: “This study provides another clue to how a rapid decline in the sense of smell is a really good indicator of what’s going to end up structurally occurring in specific regions of the brain. We were able to show that the volume and shape of grey matter in olfactory and memory-associated areas of the brains of people with rapid decline in their sense of smell were smaller compared to people who had less severe olfactory decline.”
If you’re worried about your memory or thinking you may have dementia it’s a good idea to see your GP.
If you’re worried about someone else’s symptoms, encourage them to make an appointment with a GP and perhaps suggest going with them.
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