Profiles of Odorant Specific Performance in Olfactory Testing

Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2023 Jan;37(1):26-34. doi: 10.1177/19458924221124692. Epub 2022 Sep 6.


Background: Olfactory dysfunction (OD) can occur from a variety of etiologies. However, there are few reports examining whether varying etiologies have unique profiles of psychophysical testing that may provide insight into the pathophysiology of OD.

Methods: Adults with chronic rhinosinusitis with and without nasal polyps (CRSwNP/CRSsNP) and healthy control adults with no sinus complaints underwent olfactory assessment with Sniffin' Sticks. Profiles of identification and discrimination were compared between CRS and non-CRS subjects across the spectrum of OD.

Results: Normosmics with or without CRS identified apple, pineapple, and turpentine less frequently than expected (range 52%-68% correct). Hyposmics with CRS correctly identified orange more frequently than control hyposmics (83%-93% vs 68% for controls) with similar findings for rose. Hyposmics of all cohorts were unable to identify apple (26%). Discrimination profiles were similar across the spectrum of OD and between diagnostic groups.

Conclusions: Identification and discrimination rates of specific odorants may provide unique information regarding the etiology of OD, however psychophysical testing is a complex interplay of olfactory and trigeminal function, the strength of target odorant, distractor choices, and familiarity with odorants.

Keywords: olfaction; olfactory disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Nasal Polyps* / diagnosis
  • Odorants
  • Olfaction Disorders*
  • Rhinitis* / complications
  • Rhinitis* / diagnosis
  • Sinusitis* / complications
  • Sinusitis* / diagnosis
  • Smell / physiology