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Causes of Memory Loss: What to Do

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Preventing Memory Loss

Ever been in the situation where you come out of the mall and cannot remember where you parked your car? Almost everyone experiences some lapse of memory periodically, and some decline in memory is normal as we age. However, with memory disorders, people have more significant memory loss that may interfere with their work, social activities, personality, behavior and ability to perform daily tasks.

Whether it's occasional forgetfulness or loss of short-term memory that interferes with daily life, there are many causes of memory loss.

Medications - A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can interfere with or cause loss of memory. Possible medications include: antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills and some pain medications.

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Alcohol or Drug use - Excessive alcohol or illicit drug use has long been recognized as a cause of memory loss.

Depression and stress - Being depressed can make it difficult to pay attention and focus, which can affect memory.

Sleep deprivation - Getting too little sleep or waking frequently in the night can lead to fatigue, which interferes with the ability to consolidate and retrieve information.

Nutritional deficiency - Good nutrition is important for proper brain function. Deficiencies in vitamin B1 and B12 specifically can affect memory.

Head injury - A severe hit to the head can injure the brain and cause both short and long-term memory loss.

Stroke - A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is stopped due to the blockage of a blood vessel to the brain or leakage of a vessel into the brain. Strokes often cause short-term memory loss. A person who has had a stroke may have vivid memories of childhood events but be unable to recall what he or she had for lunch.

Memory Loss Treatment
Treatment for memory loss depends on the cause. In many cases, it may be reversible with treatment. For example, memory loss from medications may resolve with a change in those medications. A 30-minute daily walk is one of the best things you can do for your body, including your brain. Some studies suggest that physical activity also could give your memory a boost by triggering the release of a protein called BDNF, which promotes healthy nerve cells in the brain. Also, studies have shown that an active social life appears to delay memory loss. Play cards, join a local organization, watch a football game with friends and discuss the score. Any mentally challenging activity will keep your mind sharp.

Finding the Cause of Memory Loss
If you find that you are increasingly forgetful or if memory problems interfere with your daily life, schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause and best treatment.

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