We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Original Investigation |

Risk Factors for Hazardous Events in Olfactory-Impaired Patients

Taylor S. Pence, BS1; Evan R. Reiter, MD2; Laurence J. DiNardo, MD2; Richard M. Costanzo, PhD1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
2Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;140(10):951-955. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.1675.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Importance  Normal olfaction provides essential cues to allow early detection and avoidance of potentially hazardous situations. Thus, patients with impaired olfaction may be at increased risk of experiencing certain hazardous events such as cooking or house fires, delayed detection of gas leaks, and exposure to or ingestion of toxic substances.

Objective  To identify risk factors and potential trends over time in olfactory-related hazardous events in patients with impaired olfactory function.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Retrospective cohort study of 1047 patients presenting to a university smell and taste clinic between 1983 and 2013. A total of 704 patients had both clinical olfactory testing and a hazard interview and were studied. On the basis of olfactory function testing results, patients were categorized as normosmic (n = 161), mildly hyposmic (n = 99), moderately hyposmic (n = 93), severely hyposmic (n = 142), and anosmic (n = 209).

Interventions  Patient evaluation including interview, examination, and olfactory testing.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Incidence of specific olfaction-related hazardous events (ie, burning pots and/or pans, starting a fire while cooking, inability to detect gas leaks, inability to detect smoke, and ingestion of toxic substances or spoiled foods) by degree of olfactory impairment.

Results  The incidence of having experienced any hazardous event progressively increased with degree of impairment: normosmic (18.0%), mildly hyposmic (22.2%), moderately hyposmic (31.2%), severely hyposmic (32.4%), and anosmic (39.2%). Over 3 decades there was no significant change in the overall incidence of hazardous events. Analysis of demographic data (age, sex, race, smoking status, and etiology) revealed significant differences in the incidence of hazardous events based on age (among 397 patients <65 years, 148 [37.3%] with hazardous event, vs 31 of 146 patients ≥65 years [21.3%]; P < .001), sex (among 278 women, 106 [38.1%] with hazardous event, vs 73 of 265 men [27.6%]; P = .009), and race (among 98 African Americans, 41 [41.8%] with hazardous event, vs 134 of 434 whites [30.9%]; P = .04).

Conclusions and Relevance  Increased level of olfactory impairment portends an increased risk of experiencing a hazardous event. Risk is further impacted by individuals’ age, sex, and race. These results may assist health care practitioners in counseling patients on the risks associated with olfactory impairment.

Figures in this Article

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?


Place holder to copy figure label and caption
Incidence of Events and Hazardous Events

A, Percentage of patients at each level of olfactory function who experienced at least 1 hazardous event. The blue bars represent different degrees of olfactory impairment, from complete loss of smell (anosmic [darkest blue]) to normosmia (lightest blue). B, The incidence of hazardous events in olfactory-impaired patients (n = 543).

Graphic Jump Location




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Submit a Comment


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Original Article: Does This Adult Patient Have Septic Arthritis?

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Population in Whom the Risk of a Fall Should Be Assessed