Memory slips can range from mild and inconvenient – such as forgetting where you placed your car keys – to severe and worrisome – such as struggling to remember the name of your longtime friend. It is true that dementia is responsible for many cases of memory loss and forgetfulness, but it is important to remember that memory loss can be a result of numerous other, non-permanent medical conditions as well – while some degree of forgetfulness and cognitive decline is a normal part of aging.
In this article, we will discuss some of the medical conditions that can cause memory problems.
Lack of Sleep
Considering the sleep-deprivation pandemic that we are currently dealing with, chronic poor sleep is perhaps the most common cause of memory loss. Furthermore, a sleep-deprived individual is more vulnerable to mental illnesses such as stress, anxiety, and depression, which can lead to forgetfulness as well (we will later discuss how anxiety, stress, and depression can impair memory).
If your thyroid functioning is below optimal, you can suffer from memory loss – as well as poor sleep and depression, which are, once again, causes of forgetfulness in themselves. A simple blood test can help you determine whether an underactive thyroid is behind your memory problems.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Vitamin B-12 is responsible for the normal functioning of our nerve cells and red blood cells. Therefore, a person deficient in this vitamin can suffer from memory issues. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is particularly common in older adults, and the associated memory issues are often mistaken as a symptom of dementia.
By overloading your mind, stress makes it harder for you to concentrate and effectively cement new information or skills. By interfering with attention and obstructing the formation of new memories, the disorder can lead to memory problems. Chronic stress also increases your risk of getting dementia.
Anxiety can be defined as feelings of worry and tension about future and current events. It is characterized by a number of physical symptoms, two of which are forgetfulness and poor concentration.
While some people’s anxiety is triggered by specific situations (such as social anxiety), others are victims of a more pervading generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).Depression:
The common indications of depression include a constant state of sadness, lack of motivation, and a loss of pleasure in doing the things you once enjoyed. Sometimes, a blunt mind and memory loss can accompany these symptoms; other times, those are the consequences of the disorder.
Depression can also cause trouble sleeping, which, once again, makes it harder to recall information.
A renal dysfunction means that your kidneys cannot effectively get rid of waste such as protein breakdowns. When these waste products accumulate, they can adversely affect brain functioning. Certain studies have shown that people with elevated albumin protein levels in their urine are likelier to exhibited impaired cognition and memory.
Liver diseases like hepatitis can trigger the release of toxins in your bloodstream, which can lead to impaired brain functioning. Severe liver problems can lead to a brain disorder called hepatic encephalopathy.
An acute brain infection, encephalitis can mimic dementia symptoms, including memory issues and confusion. However, like most infections, it will also be accompanied by fever, and might even cause seizures and headaches. This is an emergency medical condition, and if you think you or someone you love might be having encephalitis, seek immediate medical assistance.
Infections elsewhere in the body – such as urinary tract infections or pneumonia – can also cause lead to memory issues, especially in older adults or people with chronic health conditions. Sometimes, a sudden drop in mental ability, referred to as delirium, is the only outward indication of an infection, so it should not be ignored or taken lightly. Immediate treatment plays a key factor in restoring normal memory functioning.
Strokes can significantly impair brain and memory functioning. Although, often, the cognitive functioning returns to normal once the brain recovers, but in some cases, a stroke-related memory loss can be permanent.
As we mentioned previously, a brain tumor, along with other symptoms such as headache and dizziness, can also affect memory.
If you are concerned about your memory issues or if you think they have been going on for too long, please consult a doctor. Based on your diagnosis, you will receive a treatment plan that might be able to reverse, halt, or slow down your memory loss.