Memory Loss is a serious problem that can be caused by many conditions. It is quite normal to have difficulty recalling information from time to time. For example, forgetting where you put your car keys, you don’t remember an appointment or forget to buy some items at the grocery store. These kinds of memory problems occur most of the time when you are preoccupied by something; it does not mean you have a clinical memory loss. According to the National Institute on Aging, those memory problems might be signs of a normal brain that is constantly prioritizing, sorting, storing, and retrieving all types of information.
However, from the age of 65, your brain tends to partially lose its ability to store new information. Thus, if you are 65 or older, you may forget the names of people you have met. Sometimes, you may even be unable to recall where you put an important object; however, you will perfectly recall events that have marked your life. Apart from these natural phenomena, there is abnormal orgetfulness, which can disrupt your daily life; this medical condition is called memory loss (also known as impaired memory or mild cognitive impairment).
Memory Loss Causes and Risk Factors
Many factors can lead to memory loss; some are preventable others are not, unfortunately. In genral, factors that can lead to impaired memory include:
- Age – as you get older, your brain gradually loses cells; your body produces fewer chemicals that your brain needs to function properly. These changes eventually affect the abitlity of your brain to store and recall information.
- Medications – Some anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications can cause memory loss; in addition, some medications used to treat schizophrenia and insomnia can affect the reception and transmission capacity of your brain.
- Alcohol Abuse – Heavy alcohol use can affect negatively certain chemicals in your brain, and lead to memory loss.
- Clinical depression and Anxiety – These mental disorders can disrupt your overall daily functioning, and make it difficult for you to recall or memorize information.
- Hypothyroidism – abnormal or inadequate functioning of your thyroid gland can slow your intellectual functions and causes memory disorders
- Brain lesions – serious brain problems such as stroke and brain tumors can damage the neurons responsible for your intellectual functions.
- Malnutrition or Vitamin deficiencies – Deficiencies of B vitamins can affect your memory; taking brain support medications will not help as long as you do not increase your B complex intake.
- Sleep deprivation – lack of sleep can adversely affect your brain function and cause, eventually, memory loss
- Menopause – menopause cause a decrease in your estrogen levels, which can cause various problems including memory problems. In addition, hot flashes are often detrimental to the quality of sleep; this lack of sleep can also affect your memory
- Diseases– certain disease such as Aids/HIV, Parkinson’s disease, encephalitis and meningitis, Wilson’s disease, Lewy body disease, Pick Disease, and Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease (CJD) may cause major memory dysfunction.
Memory Loss Signs and Symptoms
You have memory loss when you are unable to remember events in the short or long term. Serious memory loss can lead to confusion, irritation and difficulty completing your important tasks.
How is memory loss diagnosed?
A conversation with your doctor can, sometimes, be enough to diagnose your memory loss. Your doctor may ask you questions about your medical history, medications you are taking, your diet, your sleep pattern, and your drinking habit.
In addition, your physician may recommend neuropsychological tests. It is sometimes necessary to complete those tests by other medical exams such as blood test or brain imaging: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan or brain scan. Most of the times, the purpose of these exams is to determine if you have brain damage that can lead to memory loss.
Memory Loss Treatment (Alternative)
Memory loss can be treated by natural remedies or dug therapy. Your memory performance has a close relationship with your health; it is vital to treat any health issue that is associated with your impaired memory problem.
Before taking any medication, follow these brain improvement techniques:
Small Techniques – If you suffer from memory loss, take some good habits: always put your keys in the same place; learn to note what you do not want to forget; speak loudly to yourself, etc.
Relax – stress and daily concerns can affect your memory; every day, book yourself time to relax or have fun; if you are married, having regular sexual intercourse can very useful.
Keep your brain fit – Many recent studies have shown that sustained intellectual activities throughout lifetime may help protect individuals from getting Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss; therefore, read scientific books in a regular basic, do crossword puzzles, try to solve challenging problems, etc.
Exercise regularly – physical activities stimulate your memory and improve your overall health quality. Adopt an active lifestyle (biking, swimming, walking, etc.) and practice it at least three times a week for at least 20 minutes each time.
Get support– Memory impairment can be a sign of Alzheimer disease; do not hesitate to contact your doctor or any Alzheimer Society in your area if you have persistant memory problems; you’ll find support and advice.
Nutrition for your memory – many studies confirm that vitamins B12, folic acid and anti-oxidant supplements are effective in the prevention of memory loss. Therefore, along with a healthy lifestyle, increase the following supplement in your diet: Alpha-tocopherol, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C with bioflavonoid, zinc, copper, acetylcholine, DMAE, boron, garlic, lecithin, and ginkgo biloba.
Memory Loss Treatment (Medical)
If the above alternatives do not work, a drug therapy will be your only option. The treatment depends on the cause of the disease. For example, your doctor may prescribe you antidepressants if depression is the root of your memory loss. If the problem is the result of Alzheimer disease, dementia due to Lewy bodies, or vascular dementia, the following drugs may be used to improve your memory:
- Galantamine (Nivalin, Razadyne, Razadyne ER, Reminyl)
- Rivastigmine (Exelon)
- Donepezil (Aricept)
- Tacrine (Cognex).
These drugs act on your brain by increasing cholinergic neurotransmission through inhibition of acetyl-choline esterase or by inhibiting glutamatergic transmission.