Above, was part of a question, sent by text from a respondent. He said, “Doc, I am only 53, why do l experience memory loss? I easily forget names of people and things. My father is still alive, and in his early 80s, his memory is still intact. I am worried.
Let me explain,when why you should get worried about memory loss. You see, if you forget your keys occasionally – that might be absentmindedness, but if you for- get what you did this morning, or what you ate this morning. That might be a more serious memory problem. Yes, loss of memory could be defined as the total or partial inability to recall recent or remote experiences, sometimes we medically refer to it as amnesia.
The causes of memory loss are only partially understood. Injury to the brain can produce memory loss of events that occurred just before – retrograde memory loss or just after – post traumatic memory loss. Depending on the severity of the injury, most memory loss last for only minutes or hours and disappear without treatment, but with severe brain injury, the memory loss may become permanent.
What are the most likely causes of Emory loss?
Sleep – First it is harder to recall things when you have not slept. Second, sleep strengthens the bond between brain cells that help you remember for the long term. Third, it is harder to form memories in the first place, when your mind is wander- ing, because of lack of sleep. Good sleep hygiene can help you shoot for 8 hours a night, exercise daily, stick to regular sleep schedule and avoid too much alcohol and caffeine late in the evening.
Medications – Drugs that sedate you, like sleep aids and tranquilizers, can weak- en your memory, as you might imagine. But so can less obvious culprits, like blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Plus, you may react differently than someone else to the same pill or combination of pills.
Tell your doctor about any memory issues when you start a new medication. They may be able to adjust the dose or prescribe an alternative.
Genes – The traits you got from your parents help determine when and if your memory starts to fade, and whether you get dementia. But it is not simple. Genetics seem to matter more in some type of dementia than others, and a gene that affects memory in one person, might have no effect in another. A genetic test from your doctor, might have some useful information.
Age – Memory tends to get worse as you get older. We, doctors call it dementia, especially when it starts to interfere with your daily life. The number of people with Alzheimer’s Syndrome, the most common form of dementia, doubles every 5 years after age 65. Your genes play a part in why this happens, but so do things like diet, exercise, social life, and illness like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
High bloody pressure – Also called hypertension, raises your risk of memory problems, including dementia, most likely because it damages the tiny blood vessels in your brain. It also can lead to other conditions like stroke, that cause dementia. People who control their blood pressure with diet, exercise and medication seem to be able to slow or prevent this brain de- cline.
Obesity – If your Body Mass Index (BMI), is over 30 in middle age, you have a higher risk to dementia later in life. An extra kilogram anytime makes heart disease more likely, which also sometimes leads to brain decline and memory problems. You may improve your BMI with healthy diet and regular exercise. Always be medically guided.
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