The Fifth Sense SmellAbility Touch and Smell cards have been designed as a simple prototype smell screening and educational tool to:
- help identify a person’s ability to detect and identify odours
- as a way of understanding how smell testing can be undertaken in different public health and workplace settings
The cards are not a validated smell test and are not intended as a replacement for validated tests such as Sniffin Sticks or UPSIT. At present, these tools are used in a relatively small number of specialist clinics and smell testing is not undertaken widely across the NHS. The idea of the Touch and Smell cards is to explore whether a simple smell test is helpful to you when seeing patients reporting problems with their sense of smell and give you a simple way of seeing if somebody has difficulty detecting and identifying odours rather than just relying on what they tell you. We also want to get your feedback on smell testing and the cards. Please help us by completing our survey here.
Using the cards
Each of the four squares on the card has a different aroma embedded on it. These are listed below. To release the odour, gently rub part of each square with a finger. Full instructions can be found on the reverse of the card.
Each aroma can be used multiple times but will eventually run out or fade over time, with each card lasting up to two years if stored correctly. The cards are intended to be used by one person only to avoid the spread of germs or infection.
Square 1 (pink): Floral
Square 2 (purple): Coconut
Square 3 (dark blue): Cinnamon
Square 4 (pale blue): Orange
- Ask the person using the card to ‘touch and smell’ Square 1.
- Ask them if they can detect the aroma
- If they can detect the aroma, ask if they think it is strong smell or a weak smell
- Then ask them if they can identify the aroma, suggesting three options, including the correct answer (suggestions are shown below)
- Repeat the same process for the remaining three squares. Make sure there is at least a minute between smelling each square
Suggested options for Step 4:
Square 1 (pink): Floral, caramel, banana
Square 2 (purple): Vanilla, coconut, lavender
Square 3 (dark blue): Cinnamon, coffee, clove
Square 4 (pale blue): Lemon, lime, orange
Smell is very subjective and not everyone is good at identifying aromas without any other cues. You might need to tell the person using the card what the aroma is before they recognise it, but if they still don’t recognise it, and also say that other things smell differently to the way they should, this might mean they are experiencing ‘parosmia’, a distorted sense of smell.
If the person using the card has difficulties detecting and identifying the smells then this might indicate they have a problem with their sense of smell.
Storing the cards
Cards should be stored in dry conditions, away from odours and light. Avoid accidentally touching the four squares on the front of the card to avoid accidental release of the odours. When stored correctly the cards will last for up to two years.
We would really appreciate your feedback on how useful you found the cards and the process of undertaking a smell test. Please click here to complete our short survey.
We hope you find the cards useful.