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What are the Symptoms of Memory Loss?

Memory loss can be attributed to many causes, from medication, to illness, to simple old age. A large majority of people experience some degree of memory loss as they age, but not only the old can experience the condition. Understanding the signs and symptoms of memory loss can help determine if medical attention is needed.

One of the most common early symptoms of memory loss is an inability to remember small details, such as names or important dates. Some people are simply never able to retain these details regardless of age or health, but others may find their ability to recall names or birthdays gradually worsening. This is fairly common in old age, and may not be indicative of a health problem such as Alzheimer's.

People suffering from symptoms of memory loss may forget details close to the present, such as where they parked the car, or why they are going to the store. Memory loss can also affect long-held knowledge, such as where the person lives, or what his or her phone number. Significant memory loss can cause a person to forget how to do important tasks, such as driving.

Not all symptoms of memory loss involve forgetting a specific idea. People may be subject to unexplained mood swings or even major personality disorders as a result of memory-related problems. These can be serious symptoms and may warrant medical attention for diagnosis.

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When a person is experiencing symptoms of memory loss, it is important to examine all possible causes for the condition before jumping to any conclusions. Many medications, including those for blood pressure and anxiety, can actually cause some memory loss in some people. Some evidence suggests that chronic alcohol use may reduce mental functions, including memory.

Depression or extreme stress can also sometimes cause memory loss. If the mind is asked to deal with a tremendously disturbing event, like the death of a loved one, the brain may be too overwhelmed by the situation to behave and fire neurons normally. This type of memory loss is usually temporary and dwindles as stress levels approach normal.

Symptoms of memory loss associated with head trauma are very common. A good blow to the head can cause temporary lapses in memory even in a relatively minor injury. Most doctors recommend that any head wound from impact should be checked out by physician as soon as possible, to rule out the possibilities of internal bleeding. If a person who has suffered a head injury exhibits memory loss, diminished motor functioning, or personality changes, it may be important to get medical attention immediately.

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