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Partial or complete loss of memory and inability to form new memories. This may result from health problems or events in life, such as an accident. It may also result from damage to the brain from injuries, including head injury, stroke or a result of disease, such as alcohol, or chronic drug abuse or psychological trauma or stress.
Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.
Organ or part of body involved: Brain
Symptoms and indications: Most often amnesia is caused by a head injury called a concussion. A concussion is defined as a temporary loss of consciousness due to head trauma. Following a concussion people feel dazed. In cases of severe concussion, people may suffer seizures, but this is not very common. The amnesia associated with concussions is such that the victim only forgets what happened to them just prior to the head trauma. Generally, the amnesia lasts only seconds to minutes, but in cases of severe trauma, the amnesia may involve weeks to months of the victim not remembering anything. This can be very disconcerting for the person. The amnesia gradually gets resolved from more distant to more recent memories. Sometimes small bits and pieces will remain forgotten or foggy. For the most part, amnesia is always temporary and very limited.
Causes and risk factors: Causes may range from brain damage to a psychological reason. The main cause is the impairment of brain cells by diseases which affect them directly or indirectly, due to a poor blood supply caused by circulatory diseases. Several medications, alone or in combination, can cause memory loss, as can underlying illnesses like depression, thyroid problems, and chronic fatigue. Sometimes even allergic reactions to food can impair memory. Poor digestion can be at the root of memory problems, as can a hormone imbalance.
Prevention: Amnesia is only preventable in so far as brain injury can be prevented or minimized. Common sense approaches include wearing a helmet when bicycling or participating in potentially dangerous sports, using automobile seat belts, and avoiding excessive alcohol or drug use. Brain infections should be treated swiftly and aggressively to minimize the damage due to swelling. Victims of strokes, brain aneurysms, and transient ischemic attacks should seek immediate medical treatment.
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