Factors associated with relevant olfactory recovery after olfactory training: a retrospective study including 601 participants

Rhinology. 2021 Feb 1;59(1):91-97. doi: 10.4193/Rhin20-262.


Objective: Olfactory training (OT) represents a therapeutic option for multiple etiologies of olfactory dysfunction (OD) that also benefits normosmic subjects. In this retrospective study, we report the effectiveness of OT and factors associated with relevant changes in olfactory function (OF) in large groups of normosmic participants and patients with OD, including a control group that performed no training.

Methods: This was a retrospective pooled analysis including 2 treatment cohorts of 8 previously published studies. Adult participants that either presented with the major complaint of quantitative OD or normosmic volunteers were recruited at various ENT clinics and received OT or no training. The outcome was based on changes in objective olfactory test scores after OT.

Results: A total of 601 patients with OD or normosmic subjects were included. OT was more effective compared to no training. No interaction was found between OT and OF. In multivariate analysis, higher baseline OF (adjusted odds ratio, aOR, 0.93) and posttraumatic (aOR, 0.29) or idiopathic OD (aOR, 0.18) compared to postinfectious causes were significantly associated with lower odds of relevant improvements in patients with OD receiving OT. Subgroup analysis of normosmic participants receiving OT further revealed a significant association of lower age and baseline olfactory function with improvements of overall OF.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that OT was more effective than no training in patients with various causes of OD. Additionally, baseline olfactory performance and etiology of OD were identified as important factors associated with relevant improvements after OT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders* / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smell