When to Worry About Short Term Memory Loss

Many people become more forgetful with age, but short-term memory loss can also be a troubling symptom of a more serious condition. There are medical conditions that feature memory lapse as a symptom, including depression, diabetes and dementia. Even some drugs prescribed for other conditions may have an impact on memory. Early detection of any of these conditions can give doctors a chance at minimizing the impact of memory loss.

Degrees of Memory Loss
After age 50, the storage and retrieval process in the brain slows down as certain chemicals uses for memory imprinting. Small lapses of memory are not uncommon, such as misplacing things or forgetting an appointment. It becomes more serious when memory loss reflects the person's larger cognitive ability, such as forgetting a conversation with a close family member or how to operate the microwave.

Visit the Doctor
When someone notices that memory loss is becoming more than the normal forgetfulness of age, it's time to make an appointment with the doctor. A general practice physician can start some initial tests to rule out anything significant or uncover a condition that may require a referral to a specialist. If family members notice a difference in your ability to remember things, that's another clue that things may have progressed beyond normal age related short-term memory loss.

At the appointment, talk to the doctor about specific instances of memory loss, as well as when the problem first started, other illnesses and even your mood. The doctor will also check out your current medications, as well as herbal supplements and vitamins, to see how they may be altering cognitive ability. The doctor will also perform a screening test to assess memory.

What Happens Next
Depending on the results of a variety of tests, including blood tests and the memory screen, the doctor may order more tests. If results come back normal, the doctor will likely instruct you to keep track of memory loss incidents over the next three or four months, then come back for a follow up. If the results indicate a borderline or confirmed medical issue, the doctor will discuss the proper course of treatments.

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