Memory loss – Causes, Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatments

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What is Memory Loss?

Memory loss is forgetting things that are unusual and not being able to recall things or incidents at that moment. For example, you forget something that you usually used to do, like switching off the lights, forgetting your vehicle key or forgetting the name of the person you just met.

Forgetting things is common and everyone is prone to forget something. Memory loss is a common problem that almost affects everyone. Some leave their train/flight tickets at home before travelling. This does not mean they intentionally forgot their important journey. It is common for humans to forget things.

What is memory loss?

The problem is considered medically important when you cannot hold on to your memory. Like you would have just had your meal still you ask for food, just drank some water still you could feel thirsty and at times you may forget your own address. These indicate some serious illness like Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Memory loss in medical terms can be called amnesia. Memory loss can happen due to various reasons like traumatic head injury, stroke, brain aneurysms (a bulge in the blood vessel of the brain) and infectious diseases.

Causes of Memory Loss

While you are concentrating on the above-mentioned causes, you tend to forget the other causes that can also be a reason for your memory loss.

Medications

Medication-induced memory loss is very common. Drugs like benzodiazepines, antiepileptic drugs, opioids and  tricyclic antidepressants can cause memory loss.

Antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs, tranquillizers, sleeping pills and pain killers may be the reason for memory loss.

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can cause memory loss. Alcohol consumption lowers and slows the communication between the nerves and the part of the brain that sends messages to the nerves called the hippocampus.

Alcohol can interfere with the nerves that form new memories and leave intact the established memories that are previously registered.

When alcohol consumption increases, the memory loss episodes increases. Blackouts are also common when alcohol consumption increases. Blackouts are common among social drinkers.

Alcohol disrupts the memory formation of new memories in the hippocampus region of the brain, which leads to memory loss.

Smoking

Smoking is known to cause various health hazards like cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other respiratory-related diseases.

Smoking affects other brain functions that are related to memory. Chain smokers have memory loss problems.

Some research suggests that nicotine increases concentration but cigarette buds have more than nicotine.

Cigarettes have about 4000 chemicals and about 50 of which are toxic in nature to the human body like carbon monoxide, ammonia, butane and methanol.

Long-term smoking can lead to a build-up of toxic chemicals in the human body and can damage brain functions and reduces concentration. It can also reduce your memory power and cause memory loss.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation

When you don’t rest properly there are possibilities of getting memory loss. The human body requires an adequate resting period to perform well for the next day’s activities.

Lack of sleep increases memory loss and concentration. You can become drowsy all day and may have frequent mood swings.

Sleep deprivation can cause structural changes in synaptic connectivity and induces memory loss. The recovery sleep may help normalise the structural alteration.

However, it is not advised to sacrifice your overnight sleep. Even a brief period of sleep deprivation can cause adverse effects, which may reflect in the later stages of life.

Stress

In the modern world requirement, most humans are stressed in half of their lifetime. Stress can cause chronic changes in brain functions. When the stress hormones are secreted frequently there will be impairment in memory and can cause memory loss.

According to a paper published in the National Library of Medicine titled “Chronic stress-induced memory deficits are reversed by regular exercise via AMPK-mediated BDNF induction” stated that chronic stress impaired learning and reduced memory power.

In addition to that, it also reduces the hippocampal Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

If not the above-listed reason, the reason for memory loss may be vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Vitamin B-12 is required for brain functions and maintains the myelin sheath intact. Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include memory loss and dementia.

A blood test will help to determine whether you are vitamin B-12 deficient. The normal range is 200-900ng/L.

Symptoms of Memory Loss

Memory loss can happen in slow progression. First, it would start with small things like you might forget where you kept your keys, forgetting something which was said at the moment, going to a room to fetch something and forgetting about it. These may be the start of symptoms of memory.

Mixing up words

Mixing up words and finding it difficult to communicate is a common symptom of memory loss. You might find it difficult to choose the right word and hence communication will be difficult. In medical terms, it is called aphasia.

Aphasia is a common condition and about two million people are affected by this condition, according to the National Aphasia Association.

It doesn’t mean you are mentally ill or might lose your memory fully if you have aphasia. It is a common condition, and many people live with it.

Aphasia is caused when there is damage in the brain part that controls language. The neurological disorder can interfere with your verbal communication and make it difficult for you to communicate.

Aphasia can cause difficulty in reading, writing, listening and speaking. You won’t get the exact word at that particular time and you may tend to stammer.

Forgetting common words

One of the prominent symptoms of memory loss is forgetting the common words you use. This might indicate dementia.

You might repeatedly ask the same question again and again. These symptoms may indicate that there is a slow progression of memory loss.

These symptoms are common as you age, as memory loss is common in old age. These are normal in old age but when you are young and get such symptoms they must be noticed. However, regardless of your age memory loss should not be taken lightly as it may indicate some significant illness like Alzheimer’s disease.

Getting lost in familiar places

Sometimes the familiar places you used to visit regularly may be new to you or unknown. You feel the place odd and feel you don’t fit there.

These may indicate that there is an onset of memory loss. You might also forget the route of the place that you used to drive regularly.

Stress, lack of sleep and some medication may interfere with memory loss. But if you suddenly forget about it, this condition may indicate memory loss.

Memory lapse or memory loss is common when you had a bad day. But when the memory loss progresses slowly it might indicate illness.

Taking longer to do familiar tasks

You might be very familiar with a dish or some other task. Yet you take time to complete it. You forget the steps in between or skip them without knowing.

Such symptoms may be indicative of memory loss. You might think and get stressed about it.

These are normal once in a while but be watchful of your symptoms. These might be signs of some illness.

Mood and behaviour changes

Mood and behaviour changes may indicate psychological problems. People affected with Parkinson’s disease have problems like stiffness and tremors.

People tend to be more depressed and anxious. They become more conscious about the environment and may have mood swings.

They become very sensitive to changes and impulsive behaviour can be seen. All the symptoms not only indicate memory loss but some other significant illness. Never take your symptoms lightly.

Risk Factors of Memory Loss

Memory loss can be identified during earlier stages and it can be treated. Avoid certain factors that might aggravate your memory loss symptoms.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep might cause major problems like forgetfulness and memory loss. Sleeping for 6-8 hours in a dark room will help with brain function. Your body and brain will get enough rest and you can work effectively. Regular sleeping habits will help to cope with memory loss and forgetfulness.

Stress

Stress can be a major reason for memory loss. People at some stage may experience stress due to their personal life or professional life. It is normal but how we handle it is important and will help in your well-being.

Stress should be treated at an earlier stage and if it is left untreated it might lead to memory loss and other illnesses.

Depression

Depression, stress and anxiety are interrelated. These conditions not only lead to memory but may lead to various mental illnesses that can be fatal.

People with depression express it in different ways and until they say it out, you won’t know that they have depression.

Always be kind to your fellow humans, because we never know what people are undergoing in their life. A small act can bring a change in someone’s life. Reduce and ignore negative words and spread positivity among people.

Thyroid problems

Thyroid glands regulate your metabolism. If the thyroid glands don’t work properly, they might affect your memory and cause memory loss. If the thyroid glands are underactive (hypothyroidism) the body process will be slow and if your thyroid glands are overactive (hyperthyroidism) they might speed up the body process.

Hypothyroidism can make you feel sluggish and lazy. Thyroid problems can cause concentration and memory loss problems.

A meta-analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism titled “Subclinical Hypothyroidism and Cognitive Impairment: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” stated that there is a significant risk of cognitive alteration of subclinical hypothyroidism (sHT) in individuals below the age of 75.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin deficiency can cause impairments in brain functions like memory loss. When you don’t include sufficient vitamin B-12-rich foods in your diet, you might face memory loss problems.

Foods like eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry and seafood are rich in vitamin B-12. If you are deficient in vitamin B-12 there are many supplements available to improve brain function and cope with memory loss.

Always be watchful with the supplements you consume. Before taking any tablets or supplements always consult your doctor. Do not take any tablets on your own. Vitamin B-12 is not only important for brain function but also serves as an integral part of your health.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol consumption can interfere with brain function and affect your nerve cells. Overconsumption of alcohol can affect and damage your brain cells.

Many people binge on alcohol and are diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (AUD). People with AUD may experience short-term or long-term memory loss. Always be thoughtful before drinking and smoking.

Medication

Memory while taking certain medication is common. When the memory loss still persists after you have stopped taking medication, consult your doctor.

Treatments for Memory Loss

Memory loss is a common issue and can be treated. Not all memory loss needs medical treatments and they can be treated by small lifestyle changes. But if your memory loss gets worse after lifestyle changes you might need medical treatment.

Stay mentally active

Mental health is also important as your physical health. For your physical well-being, you exercise and eat healthy food. To be mentally healthy, there are certain exercises to keep your brain active and healthy.

An ideal mind is a devil’s workshop. So always keep yourself busy. There are games available to improve your memory power.

Memory cards and crossword puzzles are some of the games that might help with memory loss. Meditation may help your mind to calm down and you won’t experience any anxiety. You will experience calmness within you and memory loss episodes may diminish slowly.

Socialise regularly

Social interaction may help reduce your anxiety and lower your depression levels. Spend time with people with whom you feel comfortable.

Get along with your friends and family well. This might help you to build a strong relationship with your friends and family. These might help you to combat loneliness and depression.

Get organized

If you forget things, try to organise them. Note all the things you have to do beforehand. And after completing a task check on the to-do list. Always keep the list with you so that you won’t forget your task.

Keep saying the things again and again to yourself or say them aloud. This might help with your memory loss. Do not do many small things at a time. You might end up not doing it effectively.

Finish your work and then move to the next. Limit your distraction and try to connect with small things. This will help you with memory loss.

Sleep well

Sleep is will help your memories stay intact. Giving rest to your brain may help you with the memory loss problem. A sound nine hours of sleep is required for an adult.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet not only nourishes your body but also your brain. Do not consume too much of junk food. They might blunt your brain function. Fruits, vegetables, seafood can improve your brain function.

Manage chronic conditions

If you have any other medical condition, try to manage it and keep a check on it. Manage your diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight.

Other medical conditions can affect your health. Always maintain a healthy weight. The food that you will have an impact on your health.

So, consume foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Cravings can be satisfied with small cheat meals.

Never miss your check-ups. Always visit your doctor if you have any unusual symptoms.

Preventions of Memory Loss

Blips of memory loss are common. But when it becomes a health condition people find it difficult to handle it. There are a few ideas that are below-mentioned to handle and prevent memory loss.

Step It Up

Always keep it a habit of working out every day. Many people’s occupation is based on desktop-based job. They are made to sit for 8 hours together at a stretch.

To keep yourself away from any diseases, include physical activity in your day-to-day life. Walk for half an hour. When you work out, you tend to shed sweat and get some fresh air.

Physical activity will help you to improve your mood and mental health. It will also boost your memory and provide good health benefits.

Include fruits and vegetables in your diet

Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. This will help you have a balanced diet.

Foods like fish have more nutrients that benefit your brain health than red meat.

Foods like dark chocolate, berries, nuts, whole grains, avocados, peanuts and coffee will promote brain function and make you healthy.

Engage Your Brain

Train your brain to attract all positive things. The way you think affects your physical and mental health.

Tame your negative thoughts. Play games to improve your memory. This will keep your brain engaged and also improves your memory power.

Stay Social

When you socialise you will tend to meet more people and you would be occupied throughout the day.

Your brain will try to run through all the incidents that happened. These incidents will in turn make your brain more active.

Sleep Right

Never sacrifice your sleep for any work. Keep your mind calm during sleeping hours. This will help your brain to relax.

Do not do any heavy workouts during your sleeping hours and always maintain the same sleeping time at night. The routine will help you to sleep well and organise your daily activities.

Stop Stress

Do not stress over anything. Avoid any type of stress that might affect your brain. Yoga and other forms of physical activity may help with stress.

Stub Out Cigarettes

There is proven evidence smoking lowers brain activity and causes memory loss. It might get worse as you age.

According to research conducted with eight long-term smokers, the result revealed that they had memory loss, a decline in their cognitive function and attention problems. This result was published in the journal National Library of Medicine titled “A reverse factual analysis of the association between smoking and memory decline in China”.

Get Checked

Memory loss can be caused due to some other medical conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

So always get checked and visit your doctor when you have any symptoms. Your memory loss may indicate other health conditions like diabetes and cholesterol. So it is important to go for check-ups at least twice a year.

Conclusion

Memory loss is common problem and at least once in a lifetime, everyone would have been affected by this condition.

You have to seek medical help when memory loss interferes and affects your quality of life.

Consult your doctor during the early stages of the symptoms. If you delay it can become untreatable. Do not take medications on your own. A proper diagnosis will help to determine your condition.

FAQs

1.What foods help prevent memory loss?

A healthy diet can cope with memory loss. Foods such as blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, fish, nuts and coffee can improve your memory power.

2.How can I protect my memory?

Memory loss can be prevented by being consistent in small activities. Stay mentally active and try to avoid any negative thoughts. Organise your thoughts and work. Maintain a healthy sleep cycle and always consume foods that are rich in nutrients and vitamins.

3. How can I improve my memory loss naturally?

Always consume foods that are rich in vitamin B-12. Foods like green leafy vegetables helps to improve memory power. Avoid sugar in your diet or add less sugar. Instead of using refined oil, fish oil would be a good supplement. Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking. Meditate to keep your mind and body healthy. Check your weight regularly and maintain a healthy weight.

4. What can cause memory loss suddenly?

There are many reasons for sudden memory loss. It might be caused due to medication, depression and stress, tumour, alcohol consumption and smoking, vitamin B-12 deficiency and traumatic head injury.

5.Can a person recover from memory loss?

A person can recover from memory loss in some exceptional cases. Sickness like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. There are medications that ease your symptoms and slow down your memory loss progression.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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