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Amnesia

Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences. 

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.

Symptoms

The two main features of amnesia are:

  • Difficulty learning new information following the onset of amnesia (anterograde amnesia)
  • Difficulty remembering past events and previously familiar information (retrograde amnesia)

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

Causes

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:

  • Stroke
  • 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
  • Lack of adequate oxygen in the brain, for example, from a heart attack, respiratory distress or carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Long-term alcohol abuse leading to thiamin (vitamin B-1) deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
  • Tumors in areas of the brain that control memory
  • Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • Seizures
  • Certain medications, such as benzodiazepines or other medications that act as sedatives

Risk factors

The chance of developing amnesia might increase if you’ve experienced:

  • Brain surgery, head injury or trauma
  • Stroke
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Seizures

Complications

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

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.

Diagnosis

Medical history

The doctor will ask many questions to understand the memory loss. Issues that might be addressed include:

  • Type of memory loss — recent or long term
  • When the memory problems started and how they progressed
  • Triggering factors, such as a head injury, stroke or surgery
  • Family history, especially of neurological disease
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Other signs and symptoms, such as confusion, language problems, personality changes or impaired ability to care for self
  • History of seizures, headaches, depression or cancer

Physical exam

The physical examination may include a neurological exam to check reflexes, sensory function, balance, and other physiological aspects of the brain and nervous system

Cognitive tests

The doctor will test the person’s thinking, judgment, and recent and long-term memory. He or she will check the person’s knowledge of general information — such as the name of the current president — as well as personal information and past events. The doctor may also ask the person to repeat a list of words.

The memory evaluation can help determine the extent of memory loss and provide insights about what kind of help the person may need.

Diagnostic tests

The doctor may order:

  • Imaging tests — including an MRI and CT scan — to check for brain damage or abnormalities
  • Blood tests to check for infection, nutritional deficiencies or other issues
  • An electroencephalogram to check for the presence of seizure activity.

Ayurvedic Perspective

  • Medhya Rasayana plays a major role.

Vata Shamana Medhyam — Yashtimadhu, Kushmandam, Swarna Bhasmam

Pitta Shamana Medhyam — Ghritam, Draksha, Bhrammi, Mandukaparni, Kshiram

Kapha Shamana Medhyam — Kushtam, Lasunam, Vacha, Rudraksham, Jyotishmati

Vatajam —

Pittajam —

  • Drakshadi Kashayam
  • Tiktaka Ghritam
  • Maha Tiktaka Ghritam
  • Ashtadasha Kushmandam Ghritam
  • Chetasa Ghritam
  • Manicka Ghritam

Kaphajam —

Abhyangam —

Shiro Vasti shiro pichu —

Dhumapanam —

  • Samjnasthapana Dhuma Varti
  • Rasnadi dhuma varti

Matra Vasti —

Nasyam —

  • Shiro virechaniya gana taila nasyam
  • Apamarga taila nasyam
  • Jyotishmati Tailam

Rasayanam —

Medical Disclaimer. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

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