Objectives: Olfactory function is known to be modulated by repeated exposure to odors. The aim of this investigation was whether patients with olfactory loss would benefit from "Training" with odors in terms of an improvement of their general olfactory function. It was hypothesized that olfactory Training should produce both an improved sensitivity towards the odors used in the Training process and an overall increase of olfactory function.
Study design: The prospective study was performed in patients with olfactory dysfunction.
Methods: One group of patients performed the Training (n = 40), whereas another part did not (n = 16). Exclusion criteria for patients were sinunasal disease. Olfactory training was performed over a period of 12 weeks. Patients exposed themselves twice daily to four intense odors (phenyl ethyl alcohol: rose, eucalyptol: eucalyptus, citronellal: lemon, and eugenol: cloves). Olfactory testing was performed before and after training using the "Sniffin' Sticks" (thresholds for phenyl ethyl alcohol, tests for odor discrimination and odor identification) in addition to threshold tests for the odors used in the training process.
Results: Compared to baseline, training patients experienced an increase in their olfactory function, which was observed for the Sniffin' Sticks test score and for thresholds for the odors used in the training process. In contrast, olfactory function was unchanged in patients who did not perform olfactory training. The present results indicate that the structured, short-term exposure to selected odors may increase olfactory sensitivity.