Memory Loss

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Memory loss, also referred to as amnesia, is an abnormal degree of forgetfulness and/or inability to recall past events. Depending on the cause, memory loss may have either a sudden or gradual onset, and memory loss may be permanent or temporary. Memory loss may be limited to the inability to recall recent events, events from the distant past, or a combination of both. Although the normal aging process can result in difficulty in learning and retaining new material, normal aging itself is not a cause of significant memory loss unless there is accompanying disease that is responsible for the memory loss.

Transient global amnesia is a rare, temporary, complete loss of all memory. Anterograde amnesia refers to the inability to remember recent events in the aftermath of a trauma, but recollection of events in the distant past in unaltered. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to remember events preceding a trauma, but recall of events afterward is possible.

Memory loss has multiple causes including a number of chronic medical and psychological conditions, trauma, medications, drug or alcohol abuse, and infections.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/21/2012

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REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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Other Causes of Memory Loss
  • Cerebrovascular Disease
  • Head Trauma
  • Lewy Body Disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Medications
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Neurosyphilis
  • Prolonged Toxin Exposure
  • Psychological/Emotional Disturbances
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Vitamin Deficiencies
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Wilson's Disease


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