Poorer sense of smell can be linked to MS, study says

New research shows that a poor sense of smell can be linked to multiple sclerosis, and that problems possibly begin early in the disease process.

That’s interesting to me. I have had a poor sense of smell for as long as I can remember. It’s not that I cannot smell anything, just that my ability in that area is poorer than that enjoyed by most people.

sense of smell

How our sense of small works (Pic: positivehealth.com).

What is interesting to me is that this is connected with MS. That is something I had never, ever considered.

The study, Olfactory dysfunction in multiple sclerosis, was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. It builds on previous research which has noted olfactory (relating to the sense of smell) problems in MS patients.

Researchers, in Turkey, say findings reflect “more extensive involvement of the central nervous system and olfactory network in MS disease.” However, this is not as straightforward as you might expect as lesions are not commonly found on the olfactory nerve.

Contradictory results over the years

Apparently, this nerve largely lacks the myelin protective shield that is attacked in MS. That seems to be the reason why researchers have previously thought that olfaction was spared damage. Recent evidence, though, indicates a greater involvement of the olfactory network in MS.

It is true that clinical studies looking at smell function in MS have had contradictory results.

According to an article in MS News Today: “Data from some (studies) indicate a 20% to 40% olfactory impairment in MS, mostly in patients with relapsing-remitting MS but also among those with primary progressive MS. Other studies report no olfactory problems associated with MS.”

There is no need for me to delve any further into technical details of the new research, these are available, if you are interested, by following the link above.

I shall just content myself with the knowledge that my poorer-than-usual sense of smell is probably due to MS. I have to say that it has come in handy in certain situations over the years – but that’s another story.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.