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Memory loss

Alternative Names   Forgetfulness; Amnesia; Impaired memory; Loss of memory; Mild cognitive impairment

Definition

Memory loss (amnesia) is unusual forgetfulness.

Considerations

The cause determines whether amnesia comes on slowly or suddenly, and whether it is temporary or permanent.

Normal aging may lead to trouble learning new material or requiring a longer time to remember learned material. However, it does not lead to dramatic memory loss unless diseases are involved.

Causes

  • Alcoholism
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain damage due to disease or injury
  • Brain growths (caused by tumors or infection)
  • Brain infections such as Lyme disease or syphilis
  • Depression or emotional trauma
  • General anesthetics such as halothane, isoflurane, and fentanyl
  • Illness that results in the loss of nerve cells (neurodegenerative illness)
  • Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Temporal lobe brain surgery
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