What Is Short Term Memory Loss?

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As we grow older, we will all encounter the possibility of memory loss. While temporary forgetfulness, recall inability, and other mundane types of transient memory loss are commonalities of the aging process, symptoms can easily cross that invisible threshold lurking somewhere between ordinary and problematic. In this article, you will discover some signs and symptoms of memory loss, along with a brief exploration of possible preventative treatments. Specifically, one must learn to identify the difference between routine memory loss and that which poses a greater threat.

What is short-term memory loss?

Believe it or not, all types of memory loss are actually subsets of amnesia. Clinically, memory loss has been defined as "an abnormal degree of forgetfulness and/or inability to recall past events." The key word there is "abnormal" -- a slight decline in memory function is expected with aging, but actual memory loss is something that goes above and beyond that standard. Where the loss in ability is primarily related to recent events, doctors refer to it as short-term memory loss.

Causes

The list of conditions resulting in short-term memory loss is fairly succinct. It includes the following: Atlantic mussel food poisoning, chronic fatigue syndrome, dementia, HHV-6 encephalitis, HIV and AIDS, abuse of marijuana, and Morgellons' Disease. While some of these conditions are fairly benign, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and the aftereffects of marijuana use, others present grave health risks. Other causes behind short-term memory loss include: alcohol abuse, Alzheimer's, brain tumor, depression, epilepsy, Parkinson's, or a stroke. For this reason, it is important to immediately report any decline in short-term memory to one's primary physician immediately to identify the root problem and avoid possible complications from delaying treatment.

Symptoms

The symptoms of short-term memory loss are, not surprisingly, an inability to recall information recently processed by the brain. In order to define short-term memory more accurately, we need to first establish the three types of memory: short, recent long-term, and remote long-term. By defining the term negatively (that is, defining it by first establishing what short-term memory is not) we can more easily delineate between the three. With that said, recent long-term memory is used to store information that occurred in the close past. Examples would include things such as what one ate for dinner last night, or what movie one watched the past weekend. Remote long-term memory is everything in the extreme past -- where one was born, the color of your first house, the name of your best childhood friend. Anything that does not fall into the other two categories is, by exclusion, part of your short-term memory. Any noticeable impairment in your ability to recall those most recent events is a clear indicator of short-term memory loss.

Treatments

Where short-term memory loss is merely a symptom of some other underlying problem, the expected medical course of action is to treat the condition itself. With some causes, such as HIV or AIDS, that will include a full gambit of clinical tests and treatments. With others, such as memory loss stemming from alcohol abuse, abstention from the catalyst will be sufficient to remedy the issue. As attempting to self-diagnosis is always hazardous, we recommend visiting your doctor promptly upon experiencing any signs of memory loss.

However, the best remedy for memory loss is avoiding it in the first place. To this end, experts on WebMD recommend a cornucopia of preventive treatments, including: increasing levels of physical activity, eating five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily, challenging one's brain with mental workouts such as puzzles and games, keeping regular sleep patterns, ingesting moderate quantities of red wine, reducing levels of multitasking to keep the mind sharp and focused, and utilizing pneumonic devices to assist retention.

Considerations

Although the possibility of memory loss is something we must all face as we grow older, we need not face it lying down. As always, a proactive approach to one's health is far more efficient than effectuating repair after something goes wrong. By adopting a positive attitude and accepting control of one's own health, you alone can make the most effective contribution to your quality of life as you age. Through a combination of preventative techniques coupled with the ability to recognize and address any potential problems before they escalate, you can save yourself time, medical expensive, and heartache while enjoying your life to the fullest.

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