MEMORY LOSS

Memory loss can be partial or total, and it is normal when it comes with aging. Sudden memory loss is usually a result of brain trauma and it may be permanent or temporary. When it is caused by medical conditions such as Alzheimers, the memory loss is gradual and tends to be permanent. Brain trauma is not the only factor that can cause sudden memory loss. It may appear as a side effect of statin drugs that are used as treatment for those who have hypercholesterolemia. Major causes of sudden loss of memory are strokes. Other causes are long lasting and recurrent illnesses such as meningitis or epilepsy. Either temporary or permanent memory loss can also result from chemical imbalances, exposure to toxic substances, allergies, vitamin deficiencies (such as those caused by alcoholism), or extreme mental illness (Major Depressive Disorder).

SYMPTOMS


Symptoms of memory loss vary from person to person, but can include: forgetting dates and names; beginning a task but then forgetting the purpose of it; getting lost easily; repeating things over and over again, sometimes in the same conversation; and having difficulties performing familiar tasks such as driving or baking. They usually occur gradually and may vary in intensity depending on the cause of the condition. Confusion or decreased alertness may be the first symptom of memory loss and also of serious illness, particularly in older adults. The most worrisome symptoms are not those related to things that people forget to do.[opinion] Some patients may have problems mixing up or remembering words for objects or can have trouble understanding or taking part in a conversation. Being unable to make a simple decision can suggest that something is not working as it should and medical advice should be sought. Whether an individual suffers from memory loss is not decided only based on one's symptoms. In order to diagnose the condition a doctor will obtain a detailed medical history of the patient. The patient will also undergo several neuropsychological tests that will focus on his or her memory functions. Several other medical exams such as an electroencephalography, an MRI, or a CT scan can be performed in order to establish an accurate diagnosis. The main type of memory loss is short-term memory. Short-term memory refers to memories that last for a few minutes .

CAUSES


Side effects of Medication: Many drugs can cause cognitive problems and memory loss as a side effects, common in adults. Common drugs that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and painkillers. Depression: Depression mimics the signs of memory loss. It is a common problem in older adults?especially if one is less social and active than they used to be or if one has recently experienced a number of major life changes (retirement, a serious medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, moving away from home). Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. A lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain.

PREVENTION


The most common preventable cause of memory loss is brain trauma, especially trauma resulting from head injury. Preventative measures such as wearing a seat belt while driving or a helmet while biking, can reduce the risk of head injury while participating in dangerous activities. Eating nutritious foods and reducing stress may help prevent memory loss. In addition, it may be helpful to avoid risk factors such as alcohol abuse and exposure to toxic chemicals. As high blood pressure increases the risk for stroke, and therefore memory loss, blood pressure should be kept under control. Lifestyle adjustments such as smoking cessation and exercise can also further reduce the risk for stroke and brain trauma. Some specialists recommend that patients drink enough water for better hydration. Sleep deprivation and stress are also thought to impact the proper functioning of the brain cells, so it is important to get enough rest and avoid stressful activities. Socializing is also believed to be beneficial for individuals who may develop memory loss. Patients who experience memory loss as a result of aging may keep their brain cells healthy and active with exercise and dietary supplements. However, although some dietary choices and lifestyle changes are suggested, it has not yet been proven to what extent these may reduce the risk of memory loss, especially that caused by aging. Dietary supplements that may be recommended include multivitamins and mineral complexes, boron, lecithin, garlic, gingko, vitamin B complex, zinc, copper, acetylcholine, DMAE, and vitamin C with bioflavonoid. Patients whose memory loss is bothersome to the extent that it becomes an issue are encouraged to establish a routine and follow it. Making lists and associations, keeping a detailed calendar as well as always putting important objects in the same place might also help them in remembering more easily and faster. It has been brought to attention that people who develop mild symptoms of memory loss are more likely to prevent the worsening of the condition if they train their mind by playing strategy games, puzzle, word games or number puzzles and reading. Basically, stimulating the brain can help patients slow down the processes that cause memory loss. Memory loss among seniors is not inevitable, but is a normal occurrence for many as the brain slows down. This is not the same thing as dementia. Mental functions to do normal activities you have always done, life experience, common sense, and the ability to form reasonable judgments and arguments are not affected. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, helps combat or restore memory loss. Studies indicate that exercise lessens stress, increases blood flow, and stabilizes and deepens sleep patterns. Even walking a few times a week helps fight memory loss.

TREATMENT


Memory loss can't be treated unless it is caused by a reversible condition. The treatment is greatly dependent on the primary cause of the condition. When memory loss is a symptom of a more severe disease, it may be reversed as soon as the underlying condition is identified and cured. Memory loss due to aging cannot be cured, but the symptoms may be improved by following the prevention measures. Treating mild cases of memory loss may consist of herbal medications or a change in lifestyle. The other dietary supplements along with good quality and long sleep and avoiding potential risk factors may also improve the general status of the patient. Family support plays an important role in treating memory loss. Family members are usually encouraged to take special orientation classes on how to cope with their sick relatives and how to help them improve their condition.

PATHOLOGY


The memory is affected by the damage that may occur in the different parts of the brain such as medial temporal lobe, hippocampus, cortex and frontal lobes. Injuring any of these areas may lead to specific disruptions in the processes of acquiring and restoring memory. For instance, damage to the medial temporal lobe and hippocampus can devastate the ability to acquire new declarative memory whereas damage to the storage areas in cortex can disrupt retrieval of old memories and interfere with acquisition of new memories.

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