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Memory Loss: When to See a Doctor ?

Forgetting things is not uncommon. You may forget your wallet at home, some items off your grocery lists, or even any of your loved ones’ birthdays. The standard aging process is naturally dotted with gradual memory loss, although not too drastic. But there is a stark contrast between the normal aging process and other degrees of memory problems, such as sudden memory loss in the elderly. The CDC reports that 1 in every 9 people over age 45 report confusion and memory loss. So when should you consult a memory specialist? This article revolves exactly around that, along with what memory loss is and what may be the most common reasons behind why you have a bad memory. Let’s get right to it.

What is Memory Loss?

Memory loss is typically referred to as “unusual forgetfulness”: a state where an individual may not be able to recall specific events of the past (long term memory loss), happenings of the present (short term memory loss), or even both. Memory loss can either be temporary/ reversible or permanent/ irreversible, depending upon various factors and circumstances.

Can Sudden Memory Loss occur in the elderly?

Yes, sudden memory loss can occur in the elderly. However, there are no specific known causes for this phenomenon. Gradual memory loss is a part of natural aging, as long as the memory loss is not too severe: like forgetting your child’s name, where your house is, or what you are doing at a specific location. Such symptoms may hint at a deeper, more complicated problem at play, and consultation with a memory specialist is a necessity at this stage.  

What are the causes of memory loss?

Memory loss has a wide range of causes: both reversible and irreversible. A medical specialist can monitor and screen you for any medical conditions causing reversible memory loss. Here are some causes of memory loss that can be reversed:

  1. Medical conditions pertaining to the brain:

Many medical conditions of the brain are associated with both reversible and irreversible memory loss. They may be a minor head injury where an individual may not even lose consciousness, impeded oxygen supply to the brain, concussion, head trauma, major brain surgeries or related illnesses, infection in or around the brain, brain tumor, or Hydrocephalus (fluid collection in the brain). Multiple sclerosis, different types of dementia, transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke, and brain infection including HIV/AIDS, syphilis, or Lyme disease may also be some causes of memory loss.

  1. Other Medical Conditions:

Hypothyroidism (caused by the impeded activity of a thyroid gland), vitamin B-12 deficiency( Vitamin B-12 aids in maintaining healthy red blood and nerve cells), cancer treatments (including bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, or brain radiations), and transient global amnesia of an unclear cause may be some other medical conditions contributing to memory deterioration. Other medical causes may include uncontrolled or untreated epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Overuse of some medications is also known to affect the brain’s memory-related areas.

  1. Emotional Disorders:

Emotional disorders such as depression, stress, and anxiety can cause reversible memory loss in some individuals. They may also cause confusion, inability to indulge in normal daily life activities, and lack of concentration. Antidepressants and other such medicines play a significant part in reversing the effects of such conditions. Traumatic or nerve-wracking events, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can also be prospective causes of a loss in memory.

When should you see a doctor for memory problems?

Knowing the possible causes of memory loss is pivotal. You need to consult a memory specialist when the effects of memory loss adversely affect your daily life or if you notice signs of cognitive decline in yourself or your loved ones. These signs include:

  1. Impeded ability to do everyday tasks

  2. Taking long to remember names of family members

  3. Inability to find the right words or hampered communication abilities

  4. Putting items in absurd places or where they do not belong

  5. Failure to differentiate one word from another

  6. Asking the same questions again and again

  7. Getting lost frequently, even in known locations

  8. Forgetting how to do familiar tasks

  9. Hampered decision making and problem-solving abilities

  10. Worsening mental health with signs of depression or anxiety.

The significance of a diagnosis and its acceptance

Naturally, it is quite hard to accept that an individual is suffering from memory loss which is most likely to worsen with time. However, instead of attempting to mask the effects of memory loss, it is essential to get a prompt diagnosis to uncover the possible onset of dementia. Memory loss can worsen with time, especially if left untreated. Identifying the root causes of this disease allows you to quickly get to treatment for managing symptoms, look into future care preferences, get better insight into your condition or that of your loved one, determine the most suitable kind of care facilities, and settle legal or monetary matters. Clearing out all ambiguities with your memory specialist is essential, and if you are looking for an experienced memory loss doctor, SmartClinix is the place for you.

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