People rely on their memory to function in their daily activities. It can be concerning when we occasionally forget where we left things around the house, forget the name of a frequent acquaintance, or struggle to say the word that is “on the tip of the tongue.” Fortunately, when these are only occasional it may not mean cognitive disease, however frequent lapses in memory may be merit an evaluation. Also, people with excellent memory tend to learn faster, perform better, and be more innovative. When it comes to memory, many people want to know if they have normal age related memory changes, have early mild cognitive decline, and want to know how to optimize brain function including memory.
In this three part series on memory, I’d like to start off with short term memory loss. Short term memory loss can come about from many different causes ranging from benign or reversible causes such as lifestyle, medication, or hormonal to more serious causes such as traumatic brain injury from a concussion for example, a vascular cause such as a stroke, or a malignant cause such as cancer There are also infectious causes as well.
The benign or reversible causes include:
- Medications: Medications for blood pressure, depression, heartburn, bladder incontinence can affect memory. Adjusting dosages, changing medications or finding non medicine alternatives may be options.
- Anxiety and lift stressors: Stress increases the production of cortisol made from percursors such as cholesterol. Pregnenalone, the hormone involved with memory and recall is derived from the same precursors as cortisol. This explains why students that are highly stressed often perform worse as they don’t have enough pregnanlone during their examination to recall what they memorized or studied.
- Most people need at least 6 hours of sleep. It is also during deep sleep that memories get processed and stored for proper future recall and retrieval.
- Hypothyroidism or decreased thyroid hormone. The thyroid affects sleep, memory, and can cause depression.
- Drinking more alcohol than your liver can process affects short term memory. Alcohol is toxic to brain cells.
- Memory loss and depression go hand in hand. Being depressed affects your recall of past events, people, or places.
The malignant or difficult to reverse if not irreversible causes include specific disease processes like: vascular injuries such as a stroke or brain aneurysm; traumatic brain injury or concussion, brain infections resulting in meningitis or encephalitis, brain tumor, brain cancer or consquences of treating a brain tumor. We’ll discuss more about diseases processes affecting memory in part 2.
An evaluation of frequent persistent short term memory loss is therefore always warranted. Many of the lifestyle or benign reversible causes may be successfully addressed once the more serious or malignant causes have been excluded.
For more information on AFH brain programs including an evaluation with a quantitative electroencephalogram (QEEG) email [email protected], make an appointment at www.allfunctionalhealth.com, or call (925) 736-9828. We’ve helped thousands of people in their journey of health and look forward to helping you as well. Take care, and stay healthy.