Memory loss or amnesia is a condition in which a person has difficulty remembering past events or experiences, be it short-term or long-term memory. In addition, sufferers of this condition can also have difficulty forming memories or new memories.
Memory loss (amnesia) is quite common in people with severe head injuries. In addition, memory loss can also be caused by stroke, dementia, or excessive alcohol consumption
Some cases of memory loss occur only for a short time and can heal by itself. However, memory loss can also be severe and persistent, making it difficult for the sufferer to function and lead a normal life.
Various Causes of Memory Loss
Here are some conditions or diseases that can make a person experience memory loss problems:
1. Severe head injury
The causes of severe head injuries can vary, ranging from traffic accidents, physical violence, falls from a height, to sports accidents. Severe head injuries often cause damage to the brain, which can lead to problems with memory loss or loss of consciousness.
Brain injury due to a severe head injury needs to be treated quickly because it can be fatal. If not treated properly, this condition can cause permanent brain damage.
Dementia or senile dementia is one of the most common causes of memory loss. Some people with dementia may experience mild memory loss, but it can also be quite severe.
Generally, the type of dementia that often causes severe memory loss is Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is quite common in the elderly over 65 years, but it can also occur in people who are younger.
Stroke is a disease that occurs because the brain experiences a lack of blood flow and oxygen, either because the brain blood vessels are blocked or burst.
Stroke survivors can experience symptoms of difficulty speaking and swallowing, difficulty moving certain body parts, paralysis, coma, or even memory loss.
Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue caused by an infection, usually a virus. Inflammation of the brain that occurs as a result of this condition can trigger damage to the memory center in the brain, causing the sufferer to experience memory loss.
5. Lack of oxygen to the brain
This condition is medically called brain anoxia. When brain tissue does not get enough oxygen, brain function will be disrupted. Brain anoxia can be triggered by several things, such as heart disease, stroke, arrhythmia or heart rhythm disturbances, respiratory disorders, to carbon monoxide poisoning.
6. Mental disorders
Certain mental health disorders, such as associative dementia, can make it difficult for a person to concentrate and focus, as well as forgetfulness. Associative dementia can be more at risk in people who have a history of experiencing traumatic events, such as sexual abuse, physical violence, and natural disasters.
In addition to associative dementia, several other types of mental disorders, including dissociative personality disorder, multiple personality, schizophrenia, and major depression, can also cause memory loss.
7. Drug side effects
Some types of drugs can cause side effects in the form of memory loss. Examples are sleeping pills or tranquilizers, antidepressant drugs, narcotic pain relievers, antihistamines, and muscle relaxants.
Therefore, in order to prevent or reduce the risk of memory loss, the use of these drugs must be in accordance with the doctor's advice.
8. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
Consumption of drinks containing alcohol too often or excessively in a short period of time can cause a person to experience memory loss, especially during drunkenness.
In the long term, alcoholism can also cause a person to develop vitamin B1 deficiency (thiamine deficiency) and another complication called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This disease can make a person experience memory loss.
How to Overcome Memory Loss
Because it can be caused by many things, the condition of memory loss needs to be checked by a doctor so that the cause can be determined. To determine the cause of the patient's amnesia, the doctor can perform a physical examination and supporting examinations, such as blood tests, cognitive function tests, as well as an MRI or CT scan of the head.
After the cause of memory loss is known, the doctor can provide treatment in the form of:
Oxygen therapy and observation
Memory loss is often caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Therefore, doctors can provide oxygen therapy to meet the oxygen needs of brain tissue.
Meanwhile, if the memory loss is caused by a head injury, the doctor may monitor it for several hours or days, depending on the severity.
Giving certain drugs
The administration of drugs can be adjusted to the cause of the patient's memory loss and also to help improve memory.
For example, in people with Alzheimer's disease, doctors can give drugs to slow down the process of the disease and improve the ability of the patient's brain function.
Meanwhile, if the memory loss is caused by a stroke, the doctor can give drugs to improve blood flow and relieve the symptoms of memory loss and other stroke symptoms.
In cases of memory loss caused by stroke, doctors will usually also advise patients to do physiotherapy to restore body functions, such as body movement.
In addition, doctors will also perform occupational therapy and speech therapy to help patients return to their activities smoothly. Occupational therapy can also be done to guide patients to be able to remember and think better.
To help overcome and prevent memory loss, patients also need to do brain exercises. Brain exercises that can help improve memory include playing chess, learning a new language, learning musical instruments, playing cards, and playing crosswords.
Changing the pattern of life
Someone who has memory loss is advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The trick is to eat nutritious foods for brain health, do regular exercise, get enough sleep, and manage stress well.
In order to be able to carry out activities, patients may also need to keep notes or journals containing activities or things that need to be done or ask family members to accompany and remind them.
How to prevent memory loss
To prevent memory loss from occurring, there are several things you can do, namely:
- Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages too often or excessively.
- Use a headgear or helmet when driving, working on a construction site, or when engaging in sports where there is a risk of head injury.
- Apply a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, eating healthy and nutritious foods, and getting enough rest.
- Take care of mental health, namely by managing stress and relaxation.
Memory loss can be temporary and does not significantly interfere with daily life. However, in severe cases, memory loss can also make it difficult for sufferers to live independently and have to depend on others.
The sooner it is treated, the better the chance for a person with memory loss to recover. Therefore, if you experience memory loss problems, you should immediately consult a doctor to undergo an examination and get the right treatment.