Man is diagnosed with Parkinson's after wife finds his smell strange

Man is diagnosed with Parkinson’s after wife finds his smell strange

Scotswoman Joy Milne, 72, has hyperosmia, a condition known as a heightened sense of smell. She can identify perfumes from passers-by, and she can’t stay long in the cleaning products aisle. When the nurse’s husband turned 33, she began to notice a strange smell—a musky odor that was not common in men.

About 12 years later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Since then, Joy has participated in studies to help create a test to diagnose the condition — in 2012, she was asked to sniff T-shirts of people who have the condition and others who are healthy.

She got all the sick people’s T-shirts right, and an extra one — the patient, who was in the control group, ended up being diagnosed with the disease eight months later.

According to researchers, people with Parkinson’s experience a chemical change in the oil that coats their skin. It is this transformation that is felt by people like Joy. Scientists at the University of Manchester in the UK are trying to use this knowledge to create a diagnostic test.

The idea is that, using a swab, sweat would be collected from the back of the patient’s neck and that sample would pass through a machine to recognize the chemical element identified by Joy. The study is still in its early stages, but the team is excited about the results so far.

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To date, there is no test that diagnoses Parkinson’s. The disease is identified only by clinical examinations, taking into account the patient’s history and symptoms.

“I think the disease needs to be detected early, as is done with cancer and diabetes. This diagnosis would mean more efficient treatment and a healthier lifestyle for patients,” says Joy.

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