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PubMed | Hospital Clinic iversitari Barcelona
Type: Journal Article | Journal: BMJ open | Year: 2012

To investigate olfaction in general population, prevalence of olfactory dysfunction and related risk factors.Cross-sectional population-based survey, distributing four microencapsulated odorants (rose, banana, musk and gas) and two self-administered questionnaires (odour description; epidemiology/health status).The survey was distributed to general population through a bilingual (Catalan, Spanish) newspaper in Catalonia (Spain), on December 2003.Newspaper readers of all ages and gender; 9348 surveys were analysed from the 10 783 returned.Characteristics of surveyed population, olfaction by age and gender, smell self-perception and smell impairment risk factors. Terms normosmia, hyposmia and anosmia were used when participants detected, recognised or identified all four, one to three or none of the odours, respectively.Survey profile was a 43-year-old woman with medium-high educational level, living in a city. Olfaction was considered normal in 80.6% (detection), 56% (recognition/memory) and 50.7% (identification). Prevalence of smell dysfunction was 19.4% for detection (0.3% anosmia, 19.1% hyposmia), 43.5% for recognition (0.2% anosmia, 43.3% hyposmia) and 48.8% for identification (0.8% anosmia, 48% hyposmia). Olfaction was worse (p<0.0001) in men than in women through all ages. There was a significant age-related smell detection decline however smell recognition and identification increased up to fourth decade and declined after the sixth decade of life. Risk factors for anosmia were: male gender, loss of smell history and poor olfactory self-perception for detection; low educational level, poor self-perception and pregnancy for recognition; and older age, poor self-perception and history of head trauma and loss of smell for identification. Smoking and exposure to noxious substances were mild protective factors for smell recognition.Sense of smell in women is better than in men suggesting a learning process during life with deterioration in older ages. Poor self-perception, history of smell loss, head trauma and pregnancy are potential risk factors for olfactory disorders.

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