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Assess your sense of smell

A baseline can help you to track your progress

Use this simple self assessment test to determine where your sense of smell is today.

This is helpful to do before you start smell training. You can then take the test again at a later date and see if you notice any changes.

For an explanation of any of the terms used click here

First, answer these questions:
1. I can tell the difference between salt and sugar. Yes /No 
2. I can taste vinegar. Yes /No 

If you answered yes to these questions, your sense of “true taste” is probably healthy. If you answered no, you should ask your doctor for more information about taste disorders, known as dysgeusia.

3. My food tastes different to the way it should and odours that are pleasant to others are unpleasant to me. Yes /No 

If you answered yes to this question, you may have parosmia.

4. I sometimes smell things that other people can’t smell. People tell me there is no smell present. Yes /No

If you answered yes to this question, you may have phantosmia.

5. I can detect some sort of vague smells, but I can’t make sense of them

If you answered yes, you have some very minimal function of your sense of smell.

 
Next, find someone to help you

You will also need:

  1. A blindfold
  2. Five items from this list—feel free to choose other substances with a strong smell that you might have to hand. These are just recommendations:
  • Vanilla
  • Ground coffee/coffee granules
  • A piece of lemon rind
  • A sprig of rosemary/thyme/mint/sage or other herb. You can also use dried, though these are less smelly
  • A dab of toothpaste
  • A drop of washing up liquid/ laundry soap
  • Some shoe polish
  • Mustard/ketchup/brown sauce

Put on the blindfold and ask your helper to hold each item close to your nose one by one.  You should not be able to see or touch the items.

Take your time and don’t remove the blindfold until you are finished. For each item, identify which of the following statements apply:

I'm not aware of the smell at all

I'm aware of something very very faint, but that’s all

I can smell something, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

The item smells very distorted and unpleasant to me

I am able to identify the smell

Ask your helper to write down your answers and any other comments you make about each smell.

 

Compare notes

Keep your results in a safe place. Do the self assessment again in a few months, after you have been smell training.

Use the same things again to test your sense of smell and see if you notice any changes.

Click here to download this information as a leaflet with a ready-made table to note your responses.