Aim: Parosmia can be defined as a qualitative odor distortion. Despite the consequences of this condition for quality of life, the scientific literature lacks information about the prevalence of parosmia in the general population, which was the objective of the present study.
Methods: Random samples of 1,900 adult and 401 teenage inhabitants, stratified for age and gender, were drawn from the municipal population register of Skövde, Sweden. In total, 1,713 individuals (74% of the samples) agreed to participate, of which 1,387 (73%) were adults and 326 (81%) were teenagers. They responded to a question about parosmia by means of either a structured interview (adults) or a questionnaire (teenagers).
Results: The overall prevalence of parosmia was 3.9% (4.0% in adults and 3.4% in teenagers), which was stable across gender, but differed somewhat between age groups, with highest prevalence in the age group 20-29 years.
Conclusions: The rather high overall prevalence, 3.9%, does indeed suggest that parosmia deserves attention when attempting to better understand olfactory dysfunction in clinical settings and in the general population of both adults and teenagers.