Testing the First Cranial Nerve (The Olfactory Nerve) – Part 2
In addition to the above substances used to test sense of smell in CN 1, some bedside substances can be used if necessary to obtain a rough, qualitative sense of smell. These substances include toothpaste, coffee grounds, and lemon oil.
Obviously, an awake and alert patient is necessary for testing the olfactory nerve. Some irritative substances should not be used even though they may be attractive to use in the obtunded or semi-awake patient. These substances may confuse the examiner as the can actually stimulate the trigeminal nerve (CN 5). Examples of substances to be avoided include chloroform, menthol, camphor, ammonia, strong acetic acid, alcohol, and formaldehyde.
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