Changes of pressure and humidity affect olfactory function

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Mar;265(3):299-302. doi: 10.1007/s00405-007-0446-2. Epub 2007 Sep 25.


The present study aimed at investigating the question whether olfactory function changes in relation to barometric pressure and humidity. Using climate chambers, odor threshold and discrimination for butanol were tested in 75 healthy volunteers under hypobaric and hyperbaric, and different humidity conditions. Among other effects, olfactory sensitivity at threshold level, but not suprathreshold odor discrimination, was impaired in a hypobaric compared to a hyperbaric milieu, and thresholds were lower in humid, compared to relatively dry conditions. In conclusion, environmental conditions modulate the sense of smell, and may, consecutively, influence results from olfactory tests.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atmospheric Pressure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humidity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smell / physiology*