Utilizing our senses-sight, hearing, AND smell-during the patient interview can provide a comprehensive exam and assist in assessment and treatment.
What we hear and see during the patient interview constitutes much of the mental status exam. Utilizing our sense of smell (or noting patients’ reports of odors) can provide an even more detailed exam and assist in assessment and treatment.
Pleasant odors, such as perfume, soap, or laundered clothing may indicate that the patient has some social interaction and possesses the ability and motivation for self-care.
Poor hygiene, anaerobic infections, and halitosis are factors in malodor and may contribute to social isolation.
Detecting inhalants (chemical odor on breath or clothes) or alcohol may reveal the underlying substance use disorder and prompt a referral for treatment.
If patients report an inability to smell, an underlying sinonasal or neurodegenerative disease may be present.
Patients reporting anxiety, depression, or social isolation due to unpleasant body odor (where no odor is present) may be experiencing olfactory reference syndrome.
Effect of network social capital on the chances of smoking relapse: a two-year follow-up study of urban-dwelling adults.
Adolescent inhalant use prevention, assessment, and treatment: A literature synthesis.
Sniffing out olfactory reference syndrome.
Anosmia-A Clinical Review.
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