Amnesia: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention
Brain damage or a decrease in the ability to remember due to brain disease is called Amnesia. This is mainly due to brain damage, brain-related diseases, excessive use of pain-reducing drugs, excessive use of sleeping medicines, or psychological disorders, etc. Gradual memory loss and loss of cognitive ability cause forgetting problems. It is estimated that about 4 million people in India suffer from amnesia. Of these 4 million people, about 1.6 million are victims of Alzheimer's disease. Neurological disorders like Alzheimer's also lead to amnesia. Amnesia is caused by damage to areas of the brain that are important for retaining memory. Though there is no specific treatment, people with amnesia can be helped by memory enhancement and psychological techniques.
Types of Amnesia
There are mainly two types of amnesia. One is Retrograde Amnesia and the other is Anterograde Amnesia-
In the retrograde type of amnesia, the patient loses existing memories. This type of amnesia affects recent memories. Old memories, such as childhood memories, are usually affected by slow motion. Diseases such as dementia are caused by the retrograde type of amnesia.
In the anterograde type of amnesia, the patient is unable to make new memories. This effect can be both temporary and permanent. For example, drinking too much alcohol leads to such an experience during a blackout. Due to this type of amnesia, people are unable to remember things for a long time. These two types are not mutually distinct. In the patient, both of these can occur simultaneously.
Causes of Amnesia
Many antidepressants such as antihistamines, stress preventive medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and post-surgery pain medications can weaken memory.
Smoking and drinking-
Excessive drinking can lead to amnesia. Smoking damages memory by decreasing the supply of oxygen in the brain.
Both quantity and quality of sleep are extremely important for memory. Getting too little sleep or waking up often at night can cause problems of forgetting.
Depression and Stress-
Having depression causes trouble in paying attention, which affects memory. Stress and anxiety affect the ability of the brain and acts as a barrier to concentration.
Good and high-quality proteins and fats are important to maintain brain functions. Vitamin B1 and B12 deficiency specifically affect memory.
Many a time severe head injury injures the brain and affects memory for short and long periods.
Stroke occurs when the blood supply is shut off in the brain due to blockage of the blood vessel. Stroke often causes short-term memory loss.
Symptoms of Amnesia
- Anterograde impairs the ability to learn new things in amnesia.
- Retrograde amnesia reduces the ability to remember past events and previously familiar information.
- Unimaginable or false memories can be created or disturb real memories.
- Amnesia can cause problems such as confusion or disorientation.
- If there is less blood circulation in the heel (back part of the foot, just below the ankle), it can affect memory. So check it regularly.
- Physical signs such as problems in reading, difficulty in smelling, confusion about distance, etc. are also symptoms of amnesia.
Prevention and Treatment of Amnesia
- Physical activities like jogging, dancing, aerobics, basketball, swimming, and cycling are very beneficial to avoid amnesia. These improve the blood circulation in the body and the brain gets ample oxygen. This helps maintain energy and reduce the risk of amnesia.
- Include green vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, olive oil, and vinegar, etc. in the diet. Green tea, coffee, dark chocolate are brain supplements. Consumption of these improves brain function.
- Take 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Sleeping less affects the development of new neurons in the hippocampus (a part of the brain). This leads to loss of memory, concentration, and decision-making ability. At the same time, the protein in the body imbalances the amyloid-beta which can cause Alzheimer's. Therefore, it is necessary to get enough sleep to avoid amnesia.
- Brain games - Sudoku or puzzle, quiz, chess, logical or electronic games are also great brain-boosting games. The brain is exercised by playing these games for 15-20 minutes every day.
- Do pranayama and meditation. This relieves stress, helps to attain concentration, and the brain gets enough oxygen, blood, and nutrients.
- The treatment of amnesia depends on what causes you to have the disease, such as- Drug-induced amnesia (e.g., from alcohol) can be cured through detoxification. As soon as the drug is flushed out of the body, memory problems decrease.
- Amnesia from a head injury usually resolves over time without treatment. Amnesia caused by a severe head injury is not cured. However, It can show improvements usually within six to nine months.
- Dementia-related amnesia is often not treated. However, doctors give some medicines to increase the ability to learn and memorize.