What if you are finding it difficult to remember things?

Could it be a warning sign or a step closer to Alzheimer’s disease? Is it the only cause of memory loss – let us try to understand the five surprising causes of memory loss?

It’s a common experience in our day-to-day life that we often forget household items, keys or bags or sometimes – even forget to book an appointment. In some cases, we may miss a scheduled task or meeting. These are simple acts of forgetfulness. These acts are possible under stress, pressure or anxiety, but if they happen routinely, then they may raise the spectre of Alzheimer’s says, experts.

Is Alzheimer’s the only reason for memory loss?

No, it is not the only health condition that can cause memory loss or forgetfulness because the problem can occur due to several known causes at any age and irrespective of any reason. Most of the cases of forgetfulness or memory loss are treatable if we know the cause.

Some of the Common Causes of Memory Loss Include

1. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a troublesome and devastating health condition; it is linked to memory loss and dementia. Doctors diagnose your condition like sleep apnea if you have a headache early in the morning or if you wake up with a headache. In addition, you may also have daytime fatigue if you snore loudly during sleep. It is a treatable sleep disorder wherein you may experience frequent stoppage of breathing throughout the night. Sleep apnea can also hamper deep sleep which is associated with rapid eye movement (REM) – it is crucial for building memory. Sleep apnea also affects spatial navigational memory which helps in remembering steps and directions involved in putting things. When the oxygen supply to the brain is stopped several hundreds of times during the night, it makes the brain stressed up and therefore people wake up. One of the prominent symptoms is memory loss – says Dr Vikram Sharma.

2. Silent Stroke

Excerpts from the Stroke Journal Study Findings – when a stroke occurs brain’s supply of oxygen and essential nutrients get blocked or reduced significantly –with this complication people start to experience memory loss and forgetfulness. Blockages in the small blood vessels can be attributed to this. Such people are at higher risk of experiencing a full-blown stroke subsequently. In a nutshell, memory loss is the early warning sign of stroke.

Sometimes a silent stroke can cause mild memory problems gradually. The changes that can range from mild to severe memory loss are termed vascular cognitive impairment.

3. Medications    

Metformin is a commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes. It has been associated with memory issues. According to a study published in diabetic care, individuals who used the drug had diminishing cognitive function compared to those who didn’t take it. Even statins – used for lowering cholesterol have also been shown to be associated with declining cognitive functions including confusion and memory loss. Similarly, certain painkillers, antidepressants, anxiety medications, antihistamines and sleeping pills can also affect memory warns US FDA.

4. Nutritional Deficiency

Deficiency of B-complex vitamins – especially all the essential B vitamins that are important for the normal growth, development and functions of the brain and nerves. A significant deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to attention deficit disorders, concentration and memory disorders and eventually to dementia. People who have vitamin B12 deficiency should get it from their diet – such as meat, fish, liver or dairy products and vegetarians should get it from foods fortified with vitamin B12 – fortified cereals.

5. Causes of Memory Loss – Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Stress, anxiety and depression are common in people who are finding it difficult to manage home and work responsibilities. In such people, extreme stress or anxiety can lead to issues with focus, concentration, memory and attention. Thus, easing stress can significantly improve memory – says Dr Vikram Sharma. According to research published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bio Allied Sciences, untreated chronic stress can lead to depression – which eventually affects brain function and memory. However, this condition can be improved with medicines, counselling and psychotherapy.

Why one must see an experienced neurologist?

Patients come to a neurologist and describe their symptoms in general – which are mostly similar, but an experienced neurologist can get into the depth of what actually is causing the problem which parts of the brain are affected. This is important because when a neurologist reached the cause of the problem after thorough due diligence, he or she can reassure the patient as to what is causing the problem. Some patients with overloaded mental resources find it difficult to process, learn and store the information though they have the capacity to learn says, Dr Vikram Sharma.

Some of the less common causes of memory loss may include

Substance abuse or alcoholism: excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse can lead to memory loss according to a published study in the journal of neurology.

Brain tumours: According to American Brain Tumour Association, the ability to process information and memory get affected by tumour growths. Brain tumour treatments including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can also affect memory.

Head injury – According to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke even some type of mild head injury can also affect memory and cause confusion and trouble with concentration and memory. Memory loss may also be due to severe brain infections including meningococcal or neurosyphilis infection.

How is your condition diagnosed?

If you are facing nagging memory issues then talk to your doctor about them.

The doctor may point out whether you have anxiety issues, sleep problems or depression or any other significant health issue which is leading to memory complaints.

Your neurologist may address the problems based on the symptoms you have. In addition to a thorough medical examination and evaluation based on the symptoms, the doctor may order a few tests including an MRI (if needed) to help determine what exactly is affecting your memory.

Bottom Line

Memory loss is the loss of ability to remember things – which may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. If you find difficulty remembering things as simple as your keys or appointments – particularly when you are in your middle-age, then you could be at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The five surprising causes of memory loss include stress (anxiety, depression), medication use, silent stroke, nutritional deficiency and sleep apnea. In addition, there are other causes of memory loss as well – if you think your case is different then don’t forget to book an appointment for an open discussion with the well-known and experienced neurologist – Dr Vikram Sharma – you can call at this number for appointments.