Memory Loss (Amnesia)

What is Amnesia?

Amnesia, also known as amnestic syndrome or memory loss, can be temporary or it may continue to get worse as time goes by. There are various reasons why individuals suffer from memory problems and this condition often occurs due to damage to the brain.

Common causes include brain tumors, stroke, fluid on the brain, concussion, lack of oxygen to the brain and brain diseases. Some people who have lived through a traumatic experience may suffer a temporary loss of memory, which is called dissociative amnesia. Temporary amnesia is also linked to medication side effects, alcohol consumption and lack of vitamin B12. There are some liver, kidney or thyroid diseases that can also affect memory.

Partial memory loss can be connected to normal aging processes and therefore be physiological, while dementia (often associated with Alzheimer’s disease) leads to a continuous, pathological decline in memory.

What are the Symptoms of Amnesia?

The symptoms that individuals have with memory loss is the failure to remember what has happened in the past or forgetting things they have just learned. Some people with amnesia have both past and present memory loss.

Many individuals with memory loss can recite things that happened many years ago but they cannot remember what they did the previous day. This is known as short-term memory loss because they are unable to recall things that are new. Another symptom of memory loss is fabricating stories about past experiences that the person conceives to be the truth. People who have amnesia may also experience episodes of confusion.

Memory Loss (Amnesia) Causes

Memory loss – or amnesia – is caused by any injury or disease to the brain. Amnesia resulting from brain damage affects your limbic system, the system that controls your memories and feelings. This type of injury or damage to the brain is called neurological amnesia and it can result from seizures, stroke, brain tumors, long-term alcohol abuse (causing a vitamin B-1 deficiency), and some sedative medications (like benzodiazepines). Memory loss can also be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, heart attack, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), and degenerative brain diseases (like Alzheimer’s).

How is Amnesia Treated?

Treatments for memory loss consists of occupational therapy sessions to help improve a person’s memory by using various memory training exercises. The advancements in technology are very beneficial for people who have memory loss. Smartphones and other devices can be set to send reminders for daily activities. Individuals can also use a pen and paper to record important things to remember.

Family members and friends should offer much support to individuals who have amnesia. Looking at family photos or listening to a favorite kind of music can often help individuals who have problems with their memory.

Memory Loss (Amnesia) Prevention

Memory loss cannot be completely prevented, but you can take steps to improve your memory now so that there’s less of a chance of memory loss later in life. One of the things you can do to improve your memory is eating a healthy diet full of whole grains, fish, skinless poultry, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Incorporate plenty of physical activity into your everyday life. This helps to increase blood flow to your brain, which – in turn – could help you keep your memory sharp.

Keeping mentally active is just as important as keeping physically active. Doing crossword puzzles, learning to play the piano, or simply taking an alternative driving route can keep you mentally stimulated. You can also try reading more, or playing brain training games on your phone. Any opportunity to socialize is another chance to help keep your memory in tiptop shape.

Keeping your things organized also helps prevent memory loss. Find a way to keep your appointments and tasks organized, whether you insert them into your phone’s calendar or you write them down on your desk calendar. Make sure most things in your home have a proper place and strive to put them there each time you’re done with them. For instance, you might decide to keep your keys, phone and wallet in a bowl on the kitchen table.

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