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Memory Loss: Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment

Do you feel like you have been more absent-minded and forgetful lately? If yes, then there may be a few surprising reasons for your memory loss, apart from a common ailment like Alzheimer's disease. Forgetfulness in normal, we all have it. However, one cannot ascertain forgetfulness and memory loss on the same scale. Like forgetfulness, mild memory loss is something that tends to increase with your age and severe memory loss, unlike the mild one due to illnesses like Alzheimer's disease can be serious [1] .

In the case of memory loss affecting your daily life, it is time that you consult a doctor. Because, short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss and forgetfulness all vary in its nature and its effect on your daily life, therefore, getting treatment at an early stage will help manage the condition [2] .

Types Of Memory Loss

The vast spectrum of the condition is classified into two, and they are short-term memory loss and long-term memory loss [2] .

Short-term memory loss: A person suffering from will not be able to remember the things that has happened recently. That is, the individual will be able to n remember incidents from 20 years ago but find it difficult to recollect things from near future, like things that happened 10 minutes ago.

Long-term memory loss: A person suffering from long-term memory loss finds it difficult to remember things when they require it. Such as remembering events, facts, or how to get to your home etc. Basically, you forget things that are normal-everyday activities and actions [3] .

Causes Of Memory Loss

There are various reasons that contribute towards memory loss and the most common causes are mentioned here [3] , [4] :

  • Medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquillisers, sleeping pills, and pain medications given after surgery are some of the major causes of memory loss.
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs; smoking is a major cause of memory loss as it reduces and blocks the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain.
  • Vitamin b-12 deficiency.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or bone marrow transplant.
  • Head injury or concussion.
  • Thyroid dysfunction.
  • Brain tumour or infection.
  • Emotional trauma.
  • Extreme stress.
  • Stroke.
  • Brain surgery or heart bypass surgery.
  • Mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dissociative disorder.
  • Certain types of seizures.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA).
  • Electro-convulsive therapy.
  • Neurodegenerative illnesses such as Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or Parkinson's disease.
  • Migraine.
  • Dementia.

Apart from these major causes, memory loss is also connected with infections such as HIV, tuberculosis, and syphilis that affect the brain.

When To See A Doctor

If your condition is causing hindrances in daily life, such as causing physical symptoms, as well as posing a threat to your safety and physical well-being, you must consult a doctor [5] .

In the case of negligence and lack of treatment, the condition can worsen [6] .

Diagnosis Of Memory Loss

The moment you the feeling that your forgetfulness is causing you to function less and is posing restraints in carrying out your daily activities, you must consult a doctor to get it checked out.

If the condition is serious, the doctor will carry out physical, neurological, and psychiatric evaluations to gather an understanding of your condition [7] . The medical examination will include the doctor analysing the individual's medical history, including the use of prescription and over the counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, and general health [8] .

A blood test and a urine test will also be conducted. Along with that, tests of memory, problem-solving, counting, and language (mental ability tests) will also be carried out. The diagnosis will include a CT scan (shows sign of normal age-related changes in the brain) as well [9] .

Apart from these, some of the other steps involved in the diagnosis are:

  • Cerebral angiography, which is an X-ray to see how blood flows through the brain
  • Spinal tap
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure the electrical activity of the brain

Treatment For Memory Loss

The treatment method for the condition is completely dependent on the cause. In most cases, treatment help in managing your memory loss [10] .

Memory loss caused by medications is managed through changing the medication. In case of memory loss caused by depression, the individual will be required to undergo treatment for depression, and in the case of memory loss caused by nutritional deficiency, one can treat it by incorporating nutrition supplements in their diet.

Some of the other treatment options are physical therapy, certain medications and thereby managing the condition [11] .

Note: You must go to a doctor to treat your condition. Although one may take measures of therapy, it is critical that you get diagnosed by a health practitioner.

Managing Memory Loss

However treatment is essential for managing the condition, there are some steps that you can adapt to cope with memory loss [12] .

  • Keep your home organised and without any clutter.
  • Maintain an up-to-date address book and calendar.
  • Engage in hobbies that require physical activity.
  • Use a list of things to do.
  • Keep a list of your medications and when to take them.
View Article References
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  3. [3] Sen, A., Nelson, T. J., Alkon, D. L., & Hongpaisan, J. (2018). Loss in PKC epsilon causes downregulation of MnSOD and BDNF expression in neurons of Alzheimer’s disease hippocampus.Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, (Preprint), 1-17.
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  8. [8] Yousef, M., Suer, C., & Dursun, N. (2019, January). Inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase decelerates the reversal of induced long-term potentiation: implication on treatment of memory loss. InEUROPEAN NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY(Vol. 29, pp. S607-S608). PO BOX 211, 1000 AE AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV.
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  12. [12] Flood, J. F., Vidal, D., Bennett, E. L., Orme, A. E., Vasquez, S., & Jarvik, M. E. (1978). Memory facilitating and anti-amnesic effects of corticosteroids.Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior,8(1), 81-87.
Story first published: Monday, June 24, 2019, 15:19 [IST]
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