What is Amnesia?
Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences. Though forgetting your identity is a common plot device in movies and television, that's not generally the case in real-life amnesia. Instead, people with amnesia — also called amnestic syndrome — usually know who they are. But, they may have trouble learning new information and forming new memories. Amnesia can be caused by damage to areas of the brain that are vital for memory processing. Unlike a temporary episode of memory loss (transient global amnesia), amnesia can be permanent. There's no specific treatment for amnesia, but techniques for enhancing memory and psychological support can help people with amnesia and their families cope.
What are the Symptoms of Amnesia?
The two main symptoms of amnesia are:
1)Difficulty learning new information following the onset of amnesia (anterograde amnesia)
2)Difficulty remembering past events and previously familiar information (retrograde amnesia)
Most people with amnesia have problems with short-term memory. They can't retain new information. Recent memories are most likely to be lost, while more remote or deeply ingrained memories may be spared. Someone may recall experiences from childhood or know the names of past presidents, but not be able to name the current president, know what month it is or remember what was for breakfast.
Isolated memory loss doesn't affect a person's intelligence, general knowledge, awareness, attention span, judgment, personality or identity. People with amnesia usually can understand written and spoken words and can learn skills such as bike riding or piano playing. They may understand they have a memory disorder.
Amnesia isn't the same as dementia. Dementia often includes memory loss, but it also involves other significant cognitive problems that lead to a decline in daily functioning. A pattern of forgetfulness is also a common symptom of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but the memory and other cognitive problems in MCI aren't as severe as those experienced in dementia.
Additional signs and symptoms: Depending on the cause of the amnesia, other signs and symptoms may include:
False memories (confabulation), either completely invented or made up of genuine memories misplaced in time
Confusion or disorientation
When to see a doctor?
Anyone who experiences unexplained memory loss, head injury, confusion or disorientation requires immediate medical attention. A person with amnesia may not be able to identify his or her location or have the presence of mind to seek medical care. If someone you know has symptoms of amnesia, help the person get medical attention.
What are the Causes of Amnesia?
Normal memory function involves many parts of the brain. Any disease or injury that affects the brain can interfere with memory. Amnesia can result from damage to brain structures that form the limbic system, which controls your emotions and memories. These structures include the thalamus, which lies deep within the center of your brain, and the hippocampal formations, which are situated within the temporal lobes of your brain.
Amnesia caused by brain injury or damage is known as neurological amnesia. Possible causes of neurological amnesia include:
2)Brain inflammation (encephalitis) as a result of an infection with a virus such as herpes simplex virus, as an autoimmune reaction to cancer somewhere else in the body (paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis), or as an autoimmune reaction in the absence of cancer.
3)Lack of adequate oxygen in the brain, for example, from a heart attack, respiratory distress or carbon monoxide poisoning.
4)Long-term alcohol abuse leading to thiamin (vitamin B-1) deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
5)Tumors in areas of the brain that control memory
6)Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia
8)Certain medications, such as benzodiazepines or other medications that act as sedatives
Head injuries that cause a concussion, whether from a car accident or sports, can lead to confusion and problems remembering new information. This is especially common in the early stages of recovery. Mild head injuries typically do not cause lasting amnesia, but more-severe head injuries may cause permanent amnesia.
Another rare type of amnesia, called dissociative (psychogenic) amnesia, stems from emotional shock or trauma, such as being the victim of a violent crime. In this disorder, a person may lose personal memories and autobiographical information, but usually only briefly.
What are the Risk factors related to Amnesia?
The chance of developing amnesia might increase if you've experienced Brain surgery, head injury or trauma, Stroke, Alcohol abuse or Seizures.
What are the complications with Amnesia?
Amnesia varies in severity and scope, but even mild amnesia takes a toll on daily activities and quality of life. The syndrome can cause problems at work, at school and in social settings. It may not be possible to recover lost memories. Some people with severe memory problems need to live in a supervised situation or extended-care facility.
Prevention for Amnesia
Because damage to the brain can be a root cause of amnesia, it's important to take steps to minimize your chance of a brain injury. For example:
Avoid excessive alcohol use.
Wear a helmet when bicycling and a seat belt when driving.
Treat any infection quickly so that it doesn't have a chance to spread to the brain.
Seek immediate medical treatment if you have any symptoms that suggest a stroke or brain aneurysm, such as a severe headache or one-sided numbness or paralysis.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
This is most common type of dementia. Disease begins with mild memory loss and leads to the loss of ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. This involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. It can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Although scientists are learning more every day, right now, they still do not know what causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Who can get affected by Alzheimer’s Disease?
The symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60 and the risk increases with age. Younger people may get Alzheimer’s disease, but it is less common. The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. This number is projected to nearly triple to 42 million people by 2060.
What is known about Alzheimer’s Disease?
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently. Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Other important factor is Family history. Researchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear. Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists are finding more evidence that some of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There is growing evidence that physical, mental, and social activities may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
How do you know if it’s Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging Memory problems that are typically one of the first warning signs of cognitive loss. According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:
Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
Trouble handling money and paying bills
Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
Decreased or poor judgment
Misplaces things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
Changes in mood, personality, or behavioral
If you or someone you know has several or even most of the signs listed above, it does not mean that you or they have Alzheimer’s disease. It is important to consult a health care provider when you or someone you know has concerns about memory loss, thinking skills, or behavioral changes. Some causes for symptoms, such as depression and drug interactions, are reversible. However, they can be serious and should be identified and treated by a health care provider as soon as possible. Early and accurate diagnosis provides opportunities for you and your family to consider or review financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.
How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?
Medical management can improve the quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment addresses several different areas:
Helping people maintain mental function.
Managing behavioral symptoms
Slowing or delaying the symptoms of the disease.
We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on someone’s name, or forgotten a phone number. When we’re young, we don’t tend to pay much mind to these lapses, but as we grow older, sometimes we worry about what they mean. While it’s true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.
Memory and aging: Forgetfulness is a common complaint among many of us as we get older. You start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you can’t remember the title. You’re giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. You find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for. Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren’t cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.
As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. We’re not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.
Memory loss is not an inevitable part of the aging process
The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain. Whatever your age, there are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills, prevent memory loss, and protect your grey matter. Furthermore, many mental abilities are largely unaffected by normal aging, such as:
Your ability to do the things you’ve always done and continue to do often
The wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired from life experience
Your innate common sense and your ability to form reasonable arguments and judgments
What are 3 causes of age-related memory loss?
The hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age.
Hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth also decline with age.
Older people often experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills.
What is difference between Normal forgetfulness and dementia?
For most people, occasional lapses in memory are a normal part of the aging process, not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:
Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name.
Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation.
Not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue.”
Does your memory loss affect your ability to function?
The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. Dementia, on the other hand, is marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment, and abstract thinking. When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, or another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.
Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia. MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, it’s normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, it’s not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.
If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.
While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some-time in the future.
When to see a doctor for memory loss?
It’s time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. If you get to that point, make an appointment as soon as possible to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination. Even if you’re not displaying all the necessary symptoms to indicate dementia, now may be a good time to take steps to prevent a small problem becoming a larger one. Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Researchers found that the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) stops the formation of beta-amyloid plaques — a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease — by interfering with the function of beta-amyloid oligomers.
Lead study author Giuseppe Melacini, of the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University in Canada, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition characterized by a decline in memory and thinking, as well as behavioral problems.
It is estimated that almost 50 million people worldwide are living with the disease. By 2050, this number is expected to rise to 131.5 million.
The precise causes of Alzheimer's disease remain unclear, but it is believed that beta-amyloid plays a key role. This "sticky" protein can clump together, forming plaques that disrupt communication between nerve cells.
In their analysis, Melacini and colleagues found that EGCG "remodels" beta-amyloid oligomers, which stops them from creating harmful plaques.
"At the molecular level," explains Melacini, "we believe EGCG coats toxic oligomers and changes their ability to grow and interact with healthy cells."
These findings not only support previous studies suggesting that EGCG can help to prevent beta-amyloid plaque formation, but they also shed light on the mechanisms underlying this association.