What is Memory Impairment (Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Clinical Trials)?

Memory impairment may be caused due to changes in the way the signals are transmitted and information is recalled in the brain. Source: medicues.com

Almost each one of us must have had moments when memory fails us and we end up forgetting important details. “The ability to forget” is in fact considered as a boon in situations when a person is coming in terms with loss, failure or other such negative emotions in life. However, when a person shows severe lapses of memory than is usual for his age, it is usually a sign of memory impairment.

Memory impairment or memory loss may be defined as lack of a person’s ability to consistently recollect information to the extent of impairing the daily activities of the person. It can be acute or progressive and chronic. While, acute or sudden memory loss can many times be self limiting or naturally reversed; Progressive and chronic type of memory impairment causes permanent damage to the brain and is usually difficult to be reversed.

Causes of Memory impairment

Acute or sudden memory loss is usually caused by brain trauma, stroke, or as a side effect of medications like statin drugs and chemotherapy, brain infections, brain surgery, or Electroconvulsive Therapy. Acute memory impairment is, however, not as prevalent as progressive and chronic memory loss.

Most progressive memory impairments are permanent and may be caused by various underlying factors including:

  • Long standing diseases like meningitis or epilepsy.
  • Abuse of psychedelic drugs
  • Certain forms of mental illnesses
  • Certain types of brain tumors or cancers.
  • As a symptom of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
  • Pregnancy can at times cause transient mild memory impairment.

Apart from the aforementioned conditions, aging is a major potential cause of memory impairment. As a direct result of aging of the brain cells, the brain function efficiency starts reducing, which in turn influences the ways the information is recalled within the brain. Age related memory impairment is usually accompanied by mild cognitive impairment and affects short-term memory loss rather than long term memories or remote memories. Age related memory impairment is considered as a risk factor for age related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs and symptoms of Memory Impairment

All said and done, not everyone who is pregnant or aging suffers from memory impairment, nor is simple forgetfulness termed as memory impairment or memory loss in clinical terms. So, does one identify if (s)he or his/her dear one is suffering from clinical memory loss. Well here are a few classic signs and symptoms that will help you identify normal forgetfulness from clinical memory impairment:

  • Forgetting names and important events.
  • Inability to keep a track of the conversation or difficulty understanding conversations, repeating the same information again and again, or asking the same question multiple times.
  • Forgetting names and addresses of people one visits frequently.
  • Missing import appointments or forgetting about important family events.

One may have faced one or many of these symptoms at some part of their life. However, one is considered to have memory impairment only when these symptoms occur frequently to the extent of affecting his/her daily activities.

Treatments and Clinical Trials for Memory Impairment

Most treatments for impaired memory is based on the cause of the condition. Usually treating the underlying cause of the condition is enough to reverse the loss. However, certain types of progressive memory impairments that’s are caused by conditions like aging, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. cause permanent damage to the brain, which cannot be reversed.

There are several clinical trials underway to develop efficient means of treating or preventing memory impairment, do have a look at these trials and interventions for further information on memory impairment or check out this medical study that is being held in California

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