Memory Loss

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Memory loss, also referred to as amnesia, is an abnormal degree of forgetfulness and/or inability to recall past events. Depending on the cause, memory loss may have either a sudden or gradual onset, and memory loss may be permanent or temporary. Memory loss may be limited to the inability to recall recent events, events from the distant past, or a combination of both. Although the normal aging process can result in difficulty in learning and retaining new material, normal aging itself is not a cause of significant memory loss unless there is accompanying disease that is responsible for the memory loss.

Transient global amnesia is a rare, temporary, complete loss of all memory. Anterograde amnesia refers to the inability to remember recent events in the aftermath of a trauma, but recollection of events in the distant past in unaltered. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to remember events preceding a trauma, but recall of events afterward is possible.

Memory loss has multiple causes including a number of chronic medical and psychological conditions, trauma, medications, drug or alcohol abuse, and infections.

Patients may experience the related symptoms of Confusion, Altered Mental Status, and/or Difficulty Concentrating.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/21/2012

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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