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Memory Loss

We all have experienced forgetfulness at some point or other in our day to day lives. It could be either forgetting to pay bill, misplacing keys, forgetting a phone number or unable to recall a sequence of a movie or chapter of a book.

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Forgetfulness becomes more rampant with aging. Now is this a cause of concern? Why do we tend to lose our memory? Well, we tell you the details in the next segment.

Types of Memory Loss

Memory loss can be of varying degrees and symptoms.

Amnesia or amnestic syndrome

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In amnesia the degree of memory loss can range from normal forgetfulness to complete impairment of memory. It can be of the following types viz. transient global amnesia which is temporary but there’s complete loss of memory and anterograde amnesia is a condition wherein the person remembers the distant past but forgets the recent.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

It is severe than normal day to day memory loss due to aging. Although, it doesn’t interfere with a person’s day-to-day activities, it could be the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease and can affect language and cognitive abilities.

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Dementia

It’s marked by complete impairment of memory. The person faces trouble with speech, awareness, judgment and performing day-to-day tasks.

Factors responsible for memory loss

  • Addictions: Long term drug abuse, use of tobacco and addiction to alcohol
  • Age-associated memory impairment

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  • Medicines: dependence on tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medicines, pain killers, anti-depressants, etc.
  • Stress resulting from traumatic conditions, long term depression, insomnia and anxiety hinders our mental ability to recall and remember things
  • Brain infection (Lyme disease, HIV/AIDs), brain surgery, brain tumours, brain injury or head trauma (short-term loss of brain function or concussion)
  • It could be a side effect of stroke, seizures and bypass heart surgeries
  • Neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, etc.
  • Dementia occurring from Alzheimer’s disease is one of the key causes of memory loss
  • Deficiency of vitamin B1 and B13, omega 3 fatty acids and proteins

When to see a doctor?

In this case, you cannot wait to lose your memory completely. If you are sensing that you are forgetting things on daily basis then you must see your doctor.

Diagnosis of Memory Loss

Your doctor will ask you various questions based on your cognitive and mental abilities and general behaviour. It could be psychometric and neurological tests. Depending on your performance he might suggest further exams related to brain and nerves which includes:

  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Cerebral angiography
  • Blood tests to check nutritional deficiencies

Coping with Memory Loss

Memory loss can be dealt with several ways, obviously depending upon the cause.

  • If it’s a result of side effects of medicines, then your doctor might alter or stop them
  • Nutritional supplements are suggested to improve memory loss
  • Drugs for treating dementia, nerve problems and memory impairment are also the options
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective way to deal with memory loss
  • Lastly change in lifestyle helps to improve memory. This includes exercise, engaging in activities, trying to remember things consciously by noting it down, remaining socially active and indulging in healthy food habits.

People usually tend to hide memory related problems which is not considered wise at all. It’s better to let your close ones know and get an early check up before things deteriorate further.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015