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Olfactory Dysfunction Linked to MS Activity

December 17, 2015

A literature review revealed that olfactory dysfunction occurs in 20%-45% of patients with multiple sclerosis. The review also uncovered findings that suggest a relationship between mood disorders, cognition, and olfactory dysfunction in MS, reported Elizabeth B. Lucassen, MD, of the Pennsylvania State University-Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, and colleagues.

Olfactory dysfunction is defined as the having a diminished or completely lost ability to smell something.

They also noted that olfactory dysfunction in MS correlates with disability, as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), and that measurements of olfactory dysfunction may have something to do with relapses in MS patients as well.

Lucassen said, "It may help us determine when a patient is secondary progressive and no longer likely to benefit from disease-modifying therapy."

What's needed now, she added, is better understanding of how olfactory function correlates with other MS problems such as cognition. "Longitudinal study can help us better assess how this function fluctuates over time. Larger studies would also be beneficial as the studies included in my review were mostly small."

Lucassen and colleagues called for larger longitudinal studies with multi-faceted olfactory testing as well as investigations of clinico-pathological correlations to close knowledge gaps in the underlying mechanisms involved in MS-related olfactory dysfunction, the longitudinal course of olfactory dysfunction, and other areas.