Prevalence and assessment of qualitative olfactory dysfunction in different age groups

Laryngoscope. 1996 Jun;106(6):739-44. doi: 10.1097/00005537-199606000-00014.


The prevalence of parosmia and phantosmia among 363 chemosensory and nasal/sinus patients was studied, as was the accuracy with which our clinical questionnaire could assess these dysfunctions. We then investigated whether patients with parosmia or phantosmia, matched for odor intensity, perform poorer on odor identification than do patients with no dysosmia. More than 40% of the study group evidenced either parosmia (18.7%) and/or phantosmia (25.6%), a finding that suggests that more attention should be paid by the medical practitioner in addressing qualitative olfactory dysfunction. Furthermore, it appears that assessment of these dysfunctions may aid in differential diagnosis, and that questionnaires can be used with reasonable validity irrespective of the patient's age. Finally, the results imply that parosmia may be reflected in a discrepancy between odor identification and detection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants
  • Olfaction Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Olfaction Disorders / epidemiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / etiology
  • Olfaction Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology