A decrease in the sense of smell is common as we age. The Skovde study found it to be present in 19% of people over 20 years and the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study found it to be present in 25% of people over the age of 53 years. Both studies found an increase in loss of smell as we age with the condition more common in men than in women. Olfactory impairment has been associated with the development of cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disease including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. A link between brain health and the sense of smell has been suggested in several additional studies. Schubert sought to determine what the incidence of smell impairment is in older adults. They found that overall 12.5% of adults 53 years and older would develop it within a five year time frame. The risk factors for development include nasal polyps, a deviated septum, heavy alcohol use. They found that exercise and use of stations or oral steroids decrease the risk.
Reference: C. Schubert etal. Olfactory impairment in older adults: five -year incidence and risk factors. Laryngoscope. 2011; 121:873-878.