Wikipedia gives this introduction to problems involving 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 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. 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.
- 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.
Scientists are actively researching causes and cures of memory loss. Following are some of their results.
A research study headed by Victoria Leavitt, Ph.D. and James Sumowski, Ph.D., of Kessler Foundation, provides the first evidence for beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on brain and memory in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). The article, "Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume and improves memory in multiple sclerosis: Preliminary findings," was released as an epub ahead of print on October 4 by Neurocase: The Neural Basis of Cognition.
The major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), present in about two-thirds of people who develop the disease, is ApoE4, the cholesterol-carrying protein that about a quarter of us are born with. But one of the unsolved mysteries of AD is how ApoE4 causes the risk for the incurable, neurodegenerative disease. In research published this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Buck Institute found a link between ApoE4 and SirT1, an "anti-aging protein" that is targeted by resveratrol, present in red wine.
Physical fitness can boost learning and memory in children, particularly when initial learning on a task is more challenging, according to research published September 11 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Lauren Raine and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Previous studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse increases the risk of dementia. The Loyola study found that in the brain cells of rats exposed to high levels of alcohol, a fish oil compound protected against inflammation and cell death.
The good news is that these results were achieved with a dose of exercise consistent with the physical activity recommendations for older adults. These guidelines urge moderate intensity exercise (activity that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat, but isn't so strenuous that you can't hold a conversation while doing it) on most days for a weekly total of 150 minutes.
"Low testosterone and obesity are common in aging men, and each is associated with type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease," said the study's lead investigator, Anusha Jayaraman, PhD, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "Our new findings demonstrate that obesity and low testosterone combine to not only increase the risk of diabetes but also damage the brain."
Exposure to general anaesthesia increases the risk of dementia in the elderly by 35%, says new research presented at Euroanaesthesia, the annual congress of the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA). The research is by Dr Francois Sztark, INSERM and University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues.
Older adults (age 60-99) were more likely to report engaging in healthy behaviors than middle-aged (40-59) and younger adults (18-39), a finding that runs counter to the stereotype that aging is a time of dependence and decline. In addition, a higher-than-expected percentage of younger adults complained about their memory.
Cinnamon: Can the red-brown spice with the unmistakable fragrance and variety of uses offer an important benefit? The common baking spice might hold the key to delaying the onset of -- or warding off -- the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
Treatment for alcohol use disorders works best if the patient actively understands and incorporates the interventions provided in the clinic. Multiple factors can influence both the type and degree of neurocognitive abnormalities found during early abstinence, including chronic cigarette smoking and increasing age. A new study is the first to look at the interactive effects of smoking status and age on neurocognition in treatment-seeking alcohol dependent (AD) individuals. Findings show that AD individuals who currently smoke show more problems with memory, ability to think quickly and efficiently, and problem-solving skills than those who don't smoke, effects which seem to become exacerbated with age.
A multicenter study led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that mild traumatic brain injury after blast exposure produces inflammation, oxidative stress and gene activation patterns akin to disorders of memory processing such as Alzheimer's disease.
Close family members of people with Alzheimer's disease are more than twice as likely as those without a family history to develop silent buildup of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
High levels of blood cholesterol increase the risk of both Alzheimer's disease and heart disease, but it has been unclear exactly how cholesterol damages the brain to promote Alzheimer's disease and blood vessels to promote atherosclerosis.