What is Amnesia?
Amnesia is a condition when you experience partial or full memory loss. Some people with amnesia have difficulty creating new memories, while some are unable to remember their past experiences. However, people with amnesia usually still have memories of their identity.
As you enter old age, a slight loss of memory is a natural thing. However, when you experience significant memory loss and it is difficult to create new memories, it is possible that you are experiencing symptoms of amnesia.
There are several types of amnesia:
In retrogade amnesia, you will have a hard time remembering past events. This type of amnesia typically affects the most recently formed memories. Older memories (such as childhood memories) will be affected, but at a slower pace. Retrograde amnesia can be caused by dementia.
In anterograde amnesia, you will have difficulty forming new memories. This type of amnesia may last temporarily – it may occur when you drink too much alcohol. In permanent cases, anterogade amnesia can affect a part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that functions to form memories.
Transient Global Amnesia (TGA)
Many have misunderstood transient global amnesia. If you have TGA, you will feel confused and anxious. These feelings usually come and go over and over and last for several hours. A few hours before the attack, you may lose your memory and have no memory whatsoever about the incident. Some scientists think that TGA occurs due to a seizure or a momentary blockage in the blood vessels in the brain. TGA is more common in middle-aged people and beyond.
Infantile Amnesia/Childhood Amnesia
Most people cannot remember the first three to five years of their lives. This condition is called infantile amnesia.
Causes of Amnesia
Causes of amnesia may include:
If you lose old memories, it may indicate that you have a setback in the brain as a whole. It can be caused by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. People with dementia will lose their most recently formed memories first, followed by older memories.
Anocsia is a condition when you have drastic oxygen level deficiencies. This can affect the performance of your entire brain and lead to memory loss. Mild anocxia causes temporary memory loss.
The hippocampus in the brain functions to form, compose, and collect memory when needed. The cells present in the hippocampus are some of the most energy-hungry and very fragile. These cells can be easily affected by both anocsia and toxins.
Severe head injuries, strokes, tumors and infections can affect the brain’s performance. These injuries can cause permanent memory impairment. Concussions also often affect memories that exist a few hours, days, or weeks before and after your injury.
When you consume more alcohol than you should, you will experience a blackout – which is when you pass out and have no clear memory of what happened. This is an example of temporary amnesia. If it happens continuously, this may lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. If you have this syndrome, you will have difficulty creating a new memory, but have no awareness of it.
Trauma or stress
Severe trauma or stress can also cause dissociative amnesia. In this condition, your brain rejects thoughts, feelings, or information that you cannot handle. A type of dissociative amnesia is dissociative fugue – a condition when can walk or wander on your own without being noticed.
If you have undergone this therapy to treat depression or other conditions, you may experience retrograde amnesia for a few weeks or months before therapy. You may also experience anterograde amnesia, which usually resolves within two weeks after therapy.
Consumption of certain Medications
Medications that can cause amnesia include benzodiazepines. These types of medications act as sedatives.
When to See a Doctor for Amnesia
You can consult a neurologist with regard to your amnesia symptoms. Your doctor will ask you questions about your memory loss, as well as other symptoms. He or she may also ask your closed ones to help you during the evaluation process, as you may not be able to answer the given question.
Your doctor may also provide cognitive tests to check your memory. In addition, other tests may be suggested such as MRI or CT scans to check for signs of brain damage. In some cases, your doctor may also conduct blood tests to check for signs of malnutrition, infection, or other disorders. It is also possible that your doctor may perform a test to check for seizures.
Symptoms of Amnesia
The primary symptom of amnesia is the inability to collect memories that have occurred, especially specific things such as places, names, or certain events. These specifics vary – from what you had this morning to the current president. However, your motor skills can still function properly, such as walking or speaking in all the languages you are fluent in.
Treatment for Amnesia
Your doctor will usually focus on the main factor that causes your memory loss. If you lose memory due to excessive alcohol consumption, you will likely be recommended to undergo a detox. Alcohol detox involves ridding your body of all alcohol, which can help recover your memory.
Amnesia caused by minor head injuries can usually recover without treatment. However, severe head injuries may not heal as quick – the recovery period can take between 6-9 months.
Amnesia caused by dementia is untreatable. However, your doctor will prescribe medications to support your learning and remembering process.
If you experience memory loss consistently, your doctor may advise you to meet an occupational therapist. The therapist will help you learn new things and improve your remembering skills to make it easier for you to live your daily life. Your therapist can also teach you techniques to collect information more easily.
Treatment Cost for Amnesia
Treatment cost for amnesia varies depending on the choice of hospital, the medical procedure taken, as well as the severity of amnesia. To find out the estimated cost of amnesia treatment, hospital recommendations, and make a doctor’s appointment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Amnesia
Below are some things you can do to prevent amnesia:
- Avoid abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Use protective equipment when performing activities that could potentially cause a concussion
- Stay active. You can take classes, activities, go to places you’ve never been before, read new books, or participate in games that challenge yourself
- Stay physically active by exercising
- Pay attention to the diet and food you consume
- Stay well-hydrated
- Treat any infections immediately so it does not spread to the brain
- If you experience symptoms such as stroke or swelling of blood vessels (for example, extreme headache, numbness in part of the body, or paralysis), seek medical help immediately
Home Remedies for Amnesia
Amnesia patients should always remember to take vitamins to prevent more severe brain damage. Be sure to make lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcoholic beverages, eating healthy, and quitting smoking.
You can also consult a therapist to ask about cognitive arousal and memory activities that you can do at home. This activity can be done with the help of technology.