Testing olfaction in a clinical setting

Ear Nose Throat J. 1989 Apr;68(4):316, 322-8.


Assessment of olfactory functioning at the CCCRC entails a threshold test and an odor identification test that contains eight everyday items. A performance average on the two tests yields a composite score on a scale from 0 (anosmia) to 7 (normosmia). The performance of normal volunteers is stable over most of an individual's life span, but decreases for persons over the age of 65 years. Approximately half the patients with olfactory complaints display anosmia, and the other half have hyposmia. The distribution of scores, however, varies with etiologic category, emplified by the fact that patients with nasal/sinus disease display anosmia more frequently than hyposmia. The tests can determine cause (e.g., improvement of score with corticosteroid treatment in cases of nasal/sinus disease) and can also assess degree of improvement with treatment, such as sinus operation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell*