Background: Even if olfactory training (OT) is a well-established treatment for individuals with olfactory dysfunction, the effect on individuals with normosmia remains uncertain. In this randomised controlled trial, we explore how OT with different exposure lengths affect olfactory function in individuals with normosmia.
Methodology: Two hundred normosmic individuals were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups performing OT with different exposure lengths or to a control group. The OT groups did OT twice daily for three months, sniffing four different odours (eucalyptus, lavender, mint, and lemon) for 10 seconds per bottle during either a total of 40 seconds (standard OT) or 4 minutes (extended OT), while the control group did not perform any OT. Olfactory function was assessed using a 48-item Sniffin Sticks test at baseline, after the intervention, and after one year.
Results: We found no significant effect of OT in either of the intervention groups on any aspect of olfaction after intervention or at follow-up. There was no association between sex, age, allergic rhinitis, education or olfactory scores at baseline, and changes in olfactory function after OT. The extended OT group performed significantly fewer training sessions compared to those in the standard OT group.
Conclusions: OT had a limited effect on olfactory function in individuals with normosmia. Further, the superiority of a more extended OT is not supported by this study, and shorter training sessions seem to improve compliance with OT.