PHOENIX — A smell test could someday be one of the tools to screen for people at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new Mayo Clinic study.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while tremor may be the best-known sign of Parkinson's, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness and slowing of movement. Additionally, there are many non-movement problems, including constipation, loss of the sense of smell, sleep problems, lightheadedness, urinary difficulties, depression and anxiety. The non-movement symptoms can develop many years before movement disorders.
Although Parkinson's disease can't be cured, medications may markedly improve symptoms. Currently, there is no accurate diagnostic test for the disease; diagnosis is based on medical history, a review of signs and symptoms, a neurological and physical examination and by ruling out other conditions. Confirmation of the disease can only be made by performing an autopsy.