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Olfactory responses may indicate brain injuries in patients

If you've been hurt in an accident, you expect a medical team to take the time to make sure you're well and on the road to recovery. Sometimes, major tests and procedures need to take place to help you along. To diagnose a condition in the brain, a CAT scan or MRI may be needed.

If there was a way to know that a person could be suffering from a traumatic brain injury sooner, it could help doctors determine an idea of what's wrong before a CAT scan or MRI is even ordered. According to an article from March 26, it's been found that abnormal olfactory functions could be a sign that a traumatic brain injury has taken place.

So, what are unusual olfactory functions to look for? Smell is one of the senses closely linked to the olfactory nerve. Those with brain injuries sometimes smell things that aren't present, like smoke or fish. Taste can also be associated with the olfactory nerve, so someone with an injury may no longer like a food he or she once did or could think a food tastes wrong.

What the recent study has been able to identify is the fact that patients who had radiographic evidence of injuries to the frontal lobe were three times more likely to also have some kind of olfactory impairment. This is still new information, so research still needs to be done, but knowing that olfactory factors could be used to determine the probability of a brain injury could be helpful to doctors and patients in the future.

Source: Healio, "Olfactory impairment may indicate traumatic brain injury," Xydakis MS, et al., March. 26, 2015

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