Sunday, December 20, 2015


Amnesia is a partial or complete loss of memory that goes beyond mere forgetting.  It can be caused by brain damage, disease or psychological trauma.  Amnesia can also be caused temporarily by the use of various sedatives and hypnotic drugs.  The following are the most important factors that cause amnesia: ALCOHOL/MALNUTRITION The memory centers of the brain are damaged due to excessive use of alcohol or malnutrition, depriving the brain cells of vital nutrients.  INFECTIONS Encephalitis and herpes induce brain tissue damage that could result in amnesia. PSYCHOLOGICAL Caused by psychological factors when it is referred to as psychogenic.  INJURY Most commonly associated with brain damage through injury caused by an accident, fall or a blow to the head.  AGE Degeneration of brain cells in dementia is another major cause for amnesia.  As in physical injury, the brain cells that are damaged in a dementia patient cannot be replaced. STROKE Memory loss can be brought about by a stroke which results in impairment of brain cells in regions associated in memory loss. The symptoms of amnesia are disorientated/confused, difficulty recalling previously learned information, difficulty learning new things and depersonalization.  In certain types of amnesia symptoms include headache, dizziness or nausea. These symptoms cause problems for the amnesiacs, be it at school, work or in society.  In some cases the symptoms are severe enough to warrant supervised living. There are no specific laboratory tests that can confirm amnesia.  But, blood tests can be taken to rule out treatable metabolic causes or chemical imbalances.  PHYSICAL EXAMINATION/NEURO-PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION  Sophisticated tests conducted to determine the degree of amnesia and the extent to which it affects the person's memory.  MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)  A scan done to the brain to determine the extant of the brain damage.  PHYSICAL EXAMS  The doctor takes down details regarding recent illnesses of traumas and history of medications.  Also, the patient's general health will be evaluated to assess the cause of the amnesia.  If there is an underlying illness that is causing the memory loss the patient is referred to a specialist.  Treatment of amnesia depends on its cause.  All amnesiacs need to undergo cognitive rehabilitation to deal with the memory loss.  Hospitalization is usually is usually not required.

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