Prognostic factors of olfactory dysfunction

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Apr;136(4):347-51. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2010.27.


Objective: To determine appropriate counseling of patients with olfactory dysfunction.

Design: Retrospective analysis.

Setting: Interdisciplinary Center for Smell and Taste, University of Dresden Medical School, Technical University of Dresden.

Patients: A total of 361 males and 533 females, aged 11 to 84 years, who twice reported to the Interdisciplinary Center for Smell and Taste.

Main outcome measures: Residual olfactory performance, duration of olfactory loss until first assessment, presence or absence of parosmia or phantosmia, origin of olfactory loss, interval between assessments, age, sex, and smoking habits.

Results: Although 431 patients (48.2%) had functional anosmia at the first olfactory assessment, 444 (49.7%) had hyposmia, and 19 (2.1%) had normosmia; at the second assessment, 278 (31.1%) had functional anosmia, 496 (55.5%) had hyposmia, and 120 (13.4%) had normal olfactory function (P < .001). Changes in smell scores depended positively on the initial score and negatively on age and smoking habits. Normosmia was more likely to be restored in females and when residual olfactory function was relatively high. In contrast, the origin of dysfunction had no direct predictive value because it was mostly reflected by initial smell scores. However, in a subanalysis omitting the initial olfactory performance as a potential predictor, the initial presence of parosmia was associated with a lower probability of anosmia as the final outcome.

Conclusion: The prognosis of olfactory dysfunction mainly depends on residual function, sex, parosmia, smoking habits, and age, whereas in this statistical model, origin plays only a second-line role, reflected in different degrees of initial olfactory loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology*
  • Olfaction Disorders / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult