• 03 AUG 17
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    Memory Loss: Causes, Symptoms and Management

    Memory Loss: Causes, Symptoms and Management

    What is Memory Loss: Memory loss is a condition of unusual forgetfulness characterized by an inability to remember new events, recall past memories or recognize people. Also termed as amnesia, this memory loss can be short term or long term. This condition is often distressing for the affected individual and the family.

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    Symptoms: The most common symptoms of memory loss may include:

    • Forgetting daily chores, important tasks, and things.
    • One of the common symptoms of memory loss is misplacing important items.
    • Forgetting recent events, while remembering events in distant past.
    • Memory loss patient generally feels stress and anxiety because of forgetting an important task.
    • A person suffering from memory loss may ask the same questions again and again.
    • Due to memory loss, a person may feel mood swings without any reasons.


    Causes of Memory Loss: Some of the common causes of memory loss include:

    • Adverse drug reactions of certain medications like antidepressants, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs, tranquilizers, analgesics, etc.
    • Smoking interferes with the amount of oxygen supplied to the brain, thus affecting the memory.
    • Alcoholism: Excessive alcohol intake also disrupts memory.
    • Depression makes it difficult to pay attention, which affects memory.
    • Stress and anxiety lead to the lack of concentration that affects memory.
    • Deficiency of essential nutrients like Vitamin B1 and B12 can lead to improper functioning of the brain.
    • Hypothyroidism: An underdeveloped thyroid gland may lead to memory loss.
    • Stroke often leads to short term memory loss.
    • Sleep apnea has also found to affect memory.
    • Insufficient sleep: Taking insufficient sleep may lead to fatigue which tends to weaken the memory.
    • Aging may also lead to memory loss.
    • Brain diseases: Certain brain diseases like infection or tumor may lead to memory loss.
    • The head injury caused due to an accident may lead to memory loss.
    • Stroke:  If blood is not supplied to the brain because of the blockage in blood vessels, then a patient may experience a stroke. A short-term memory loss is caused by a brain stroke. A person may remember memories of past but forgets what happened an hour before.


    Tips to manage memory loss: As the patient has memory loss, his family and friends’ support is very important. They are recommended to:

    • Show the patient familiar pictures, objects or play familiar music or sounds to help in recalling the memory of past.
    • Help the patient in noting down important tasks for the day.
    • Involve the patient in recreational activities and meditation to avoid stress and depression.
    • Consult the physician regarding the side-effects of medications and choose alternatives to reduce the adverse effects.
    • Use ‘pill sorters’ to remember about the medication.
    • Help the patient in organizing workplace or home.
    • Encourage the individual to remain socially active.
    • Keep their important items in plain sight.

    The important things for the patient to keep in mind are:

    • Follow a routine and doing things in the same order each time
    • Keep note of the important information in a paper or mobile phone
    • Set alarms or maintain a dairy as a reminder of daily tasks and plans.

    Here are a few things that the family shouldn’t do to a patient with memory loss:

    • Do not keep the patient in a stressful living environment as it may delay the recovery process of the patients.
    • Do not yell at the patient for their activities due to loss of memory.
    • Don’t isolate the patient as it might cause increased depression.


    Best Foods for Memory Loss

    Most recommended foods for patients with memory loss are:

    • Antioxidants: These protect the neurons from oxidation by free radicals and especially protect the hippocampus region of the brain that is important in forming and retaining memories. Some of the best foods with high levels of antioxidants are wild blueberries, dark chocolate, kidney beans, cranberries, etc.
    • Eggs: It is rich in choline that is vital for the proper functioning of the hippocampus. Egg yolks are also good sources of vitamin B12, which help in lowering the levels of homocysteine that is toxic to the brain.
    • Salmon and Mackerel: These contain high levels of Omega-2 fatty acids to help in preserving brain function by protecting neurons.
    • Apples: The compound quercetin present in Apple is proven to protect the brain cells from damage.
    • Turmeric: Curcumin present in turmeric helps to prevent oxidation and inflammation of brain cells.
    • Whole grains: These contain high proteins and fibres that help in slowing down digestion. This facilitates a gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. Glucose as an energy source is helpful in retaining information in the brain.
    • Green leaves: These contain high levels of folic acid, Vit B6, Vit B12 which are important in lowering the levels of toxic homocysteine.
    • Broccoli: This is rich in Vitamin E, folic acid which is vital in protecting brain cells from damage.


    Worst Foods for Memory Loss

    Below listed are few foods that are to be avoided in memory loss:

    • Red Meat: These contain higher levels of saturated fats that can lead to artery-clogging. Few red meats are beef, goat, horse, lamb, veal and mutton.
    • Cheese: These are high in saturated fat content and thus can cause inflammation in brain and arteries.
    • Trans-Fatty Acids: These have shown to reduce the overall decrease in cognitive function and total cerebral brain volume. Some foods containing trans fats are muffins, doughnuts, cake, crackers, cookies, and pies.
    • White Rice: It has high glycaemic content which results in worsening of depression.
    • Salt: Use of excess salt is associated with decreased cognitive abilities.

    Short-term memory losses can be improved over-time and need the support of the family.

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