Is My Memory Loss Serious?
9 Causes Of Temporary Memory Loss
Temporary memory loss happens.
Like many of us, at some point you’ve likely ran around the house searching furiously all the drawers looking for your car keys. A few days later, you bump into a friend and for all the tea in China, you can’t remember her name.
You can’t help but think is this normal memory lapse or is this the sign of something more sinister?
For most of us, the experience of memory change may be temporary, and in many cases easy to reverse without too much effort.
So, whether it’s occasional forgetfulness or there is a loss of short term memory, there are a number of factors which can cause this short term, recoverable experience.
It’s worth bearing in mind some forgetting is normal.
Your memory, much like a sailboat can have smooth sailing days or can be buffeted by adverse conditions. The same goes with temporary memory loss, when the conditions change your performance can go back to usual. However, the more exposure to poor conditions the likelihood of damage may increase.
New learning performance changes over time, as we get older it’s observed that new learning is more difficult. When you combine sensory changes such as hearing and vision changes as we age, then the ability to recall information on a short term basis is challenged due to these changes.
However other areas of memory performance such as historical information is strengthened.
What is encouraging despite these changes, over time, your ability to know more increases, provided you keep at it!
The best way to keep your memory sharp is a brain-healthy lifestyle
In our memory health and fitness clinic, we apply brain training strategies targeted to improve memory, attention, concentration and processing speed. Combined with our Norris Memory Health Protocol assists people to tackle the known culprits which can affect your memory health.
So whether it is an occasional forgetfulness or there is a loss of short term memory, there are a number of factors which can cause this short term, recoverable experience.
8 Signs Of Temporary Memory Loss
- Forgetting people’s names and or faces
- Forgetting conversations and conversation details
- Getting stuck or lost in the middle of a task
- Ending up in a room where you’ve asked “ What Am I Doing In Here?”
- Fogginess or overall mental lethargy which impacts on your attention and ability to recall events clearly.
- Reading a passage of print and not being able to recall the content
- Getting stuck with phone number dictation “ 07 386 … Or was it 07 376…?”
How Often Do These Temporary Memory Loss Symptoms Occur?
The key question here is, are how often do these symptoms occur?
- Infrequently: They happen rarely but they do occur
- Occasional episodic: sometimes but consistently enough over a month- weekly period
- Persistent Mild to Moderate: they are persistently occurring with mild to moderate symptoms and impact on my day
- Persistent Severe: symptoms occur most of the time with significant impact on my day.
9 Causes of Temporary Memory Loss
- There are many classes of prescriptions medications and over the counter medications which can affect your memory.
- Medications which affect your acetylcholine levels will likely have an impact on your memory performance. Those which lower the acetylcholine levels are observed to increase forgetfulness, reduce your concentration and you’ll likely experience symptoms like “ foggy brain”, blurred vision and mimic symptoms like dementia. ( reference)
- Others drugs to be mindful of include: sleeping medication, cholesterol lowering drugs, anti-hypertensives ( beta blockers), anti-anxiety medications ( benzodiazepines), pain management medications, anti-psychotic medications ( AARP, 2015)
Nutrition- lack or deficiency
- Simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your memory health performance.
- 95% of serotonin is derived from your gastrointestinal system. ( Sarris, 2015) Our brain requires a significant amount of energy, over 20% calories available in your diet will go towards your brain’s performance.
- The right “fuel” will help your brain do the job it needs to do.
- Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates are all needed in the brain for it to perform at its optimum and absence of certain fats, proteins and amino acids can have an affect on your memory performance.
- Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency , common in older adults, may contribute to memory problems (Harvard, 2013).
- A large study showed the relationship of poor diet and depression and a recent paper explored the role of diet and neuro-plasticity ( brain change) (Jacka et al, 2015)
Previously we wrote about the role of the MIND diet and reducing your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alcohol and Smoking
- Long term alcohol use has been associated with memory loss (NIH, 2004). Blurred vision, reduced balance, slurred speech slowed reaction times and impaired memory are clear evidence of how alcohol affects the brain. A number of factors influence the effect of alcohol such as
- how much and how often a person drinks;
- the age at which he or she first began drinking, and how long he or she has been drinking;
- the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism;
- whether he or she is at risk as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure; and
- his or her general health status. (NIH, 2004)
- Smoking reduces the blood supply to your brain and affects the health of your arteries ( the blood delivery system) to your brain. Heavy smoking is associated with cognitive impairment and cognitive decline in middle age ( Campos et al, 2017)
Lack of Sleep
- Sleep quality and quantity have associated with memory performance changes. Lack of sleep, a poor sleep can affect fatigue which directly impacts your memory performance especially working memory.
- Experiencing depression can affect your ability to pay attention, focus to experience pleasure with the tasks at hand. Depression is associated with short-term memory loss ( Shelton and Kirwan, 2013)
- We recall better when a task is emotionally underlined or emphasized. Depression no doubt can reduce your positive experience of the world.
Stress and Anxiety
- Too much on your to do list? Are you distracted or busy? Stress and anxiety can also be a snag in your concentration performance. Being in an elevated, tense or hyper-vigilant state can contribute to a sense of being distracted and your ability to remember can suffer.
- Stress Hormones: The stress hormone cortisol is released in large amounts during times of anxiety. Cortisol affects the brain and is associated with memory loss. These memory problems aren’t considered to be permanent or represent any type of loss of brain function ( Lupien et al, 2005).
- Stress caused by an emotional trauma can also lead to memory loss.
- Whether it’s the common cold or a urinary tract infection, an infection can impact on your memory performance.
- An under- active thyroid gland may contribute to a reduction in mood, energy and mental arousal which can adds up to less ability to recall information.
- An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can result in forgetfulness and other thinking problems ( Mayo Clinic, 2018)
- Mini strokes ( Transient Ischaemic Stroke TIA) and mild brain trauma can temporarily impact your memory health.
- A TIA can be very temporary and in the case of trauma the memory health changes may be felt over a the short to medium term.
Treatment For Temporary Memory Loss
Treatment for temporary memory loss will depend on the factors which contribute to it.
Use this list as an audit of where you’re at with factors which may adding to your brain health and memory performance. The problem we see happening far to often is that people are not treating Memory Health changes as a life threatening issue. If our performance changes it can have very real consequences to our independence, quality of life, ability to work and over all health and well-being.
Temporary memory loss does have an upside, it can help spur you into action. It’s clear that the best approach to protecting and maintain memory health performance is
to live a life aligned to a brain-healthy lifestyle!
Memory Health Clinic: Next Steps To Reduce Your Risk For Memory Loss
If you’re interested in taking smart actions to improve your brain and memory health and reduce your risk for cognitive decline- call today 1300 783 200 to find out more or schedule your Memory Health Check Up conducted at our memory health clinic.