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Do things smell? If so, it could be a good sign

By Veita Bland, M.D. / April 7, 2023

Researchers are now developing tests that will assess and correlate one’s ability to smell to a possible health diagnosis.

Are you a person who has an acute sense of smell? Can you smell your child’s body odor a mile away or can you smell that rancid food in the trash can even though the lid is closed? If so, that may be a good thing.

Researchers are now developing tests that will assess your ability to smell. These assessments ultimately will be used to determine a person’s state of health.
There has been an onslaught of people having problems with their olfactory glands or sense of smell as a result of a COVID-19 infection. Now, olfactory researches are trying to determine why some people with COVID have lost this important sense and some have not. While researching potential causes for this loss of smell, researchers have gone a step further and determined that the sense of small, or lack thereof, may help reveal just how healthy you are.

It is a well-known and sad fact that as one ages hearing and vision also weaken. Many people with perfect vision in their youth are now relegated to wearing glasses to read a book or look at a phone screen. AS for hearing, how many times have you noticed older individuals with the television volume too loud? Have you noticed these same people speaking loudly, as if they were at a ball game? Are you able to hear a person’s phone conversions because the phone volume is at its max? You’ve probably noticed some of these situations.

Unfortunately, the sense of smell, like hearing and vision, can also fade as one ages. Researchers have determined that the degree of the loss of smell serves as an early indicator of unhealthy aging. This translates into cognitive decline and fragility of the body.

In one study, researchers studying olfactory glands (glands that provide one with the sense of smell) exposed study participants to five scents and measured their ability to identify the odors. The participants were also exposed to six additional scents to determine how sensitive they were to the specific odors.

The more odors identified, the less one’s fragility was deemed to be. This suggests that a person’s ability to smell may likely be associated with one’s overall state of health. It may also indicate that it is not just an aging brain at play. Loss of smell could be isolated to a loss of nerve endings in olfactory glands.
So, if one flunks the smell test, what can be done? Researchers have indicated that improving one’s nutrition may help. Additional neurological tests may be needed to further assess one’s sensory abilities. Such tests may help formulate an intervention that could one day prevent the loss of the sense of smell.

This research is indeed a complex endeavor. If we can determine early signals indicating there is a problem with smell (hearing and vision too) and intervene, we may be able to help people hold on to their sensory functions; remain healthy longer; and keep smelling the roses.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at


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