Amnesia or memory loss is a disorder that causes a person to be unable to remember facts, information, or events that they have experienced. Although mild, memory impairment due to amnesia can also interfere with the life of the sufferer.
Amnesia is characterized by partial or complete loss of the sufferer's memory. However, people with amnesia are generally still able to remember their identity, it's just that they tend to have difficulty remembering new things or remembering events in the past.
Amnesia is often associated with dementia , but the two are different conditions. Amnesia refers to a condition of memory loss that can be temporary or permanent, while dementia is a disturbance in memory as well as a decrease in cognitive function.
Causes of Amnesia
Amnesia is caused by damage to the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is the part that plays a role in regulating one's memories and emotions.
Damage to the limbic system can be caused by a number of conditions:
- Injuries to the head, for example from an accident
- Encephalitis or inflammation of the brain
- Brain tumor
- Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia
- The habit of consuming alcoholic beverages in the long term
- Taking certain medications, such as benzodiazepines and tranquilizers
- Decreased oxygen supply to the brain, for example due to carbon monoxide poisoning , breathing problems, or heart attack
- Psychological trauma, for example from sexual harassment
Symptoms of Amnesia
The main symptom of amnesia is loss of past memories or difficulty remembering new things. Based on the symptoms that appear, amnesia can be divided into several types, namely:
This type of amnesia makes it difficult for the sufferer to form new memories. Memory impairment experienced by people with anterograde amnesia can be temporary, for example after a person consumes alcoholic beverages. However, this type of amnesia can also be permanent if there is damage to the brain.
In this condition, the patient cannot remember information or events in the past. This disorder can begin with loss of newly formed memories, then progress to loss of older memories, such as childhood memories.
Temporary global amnesia
Temporary global amnesia is still not fully understood. However, memory loss in this condition is usually mild and temporary. When experiencing this type of amnesia, the sufferer will feel confused or restless that comes and goes.
Infantile amnesia is a condition that causes a person to be unable to remember events that occurred in the first 3 to 5 years of life. This condition is also known as childhood amnesia.
When to go to the doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience memory loss, especially if it interferes with daily activities. Early examination is needed to determine the cause of the complaints felt.
People with amnesia may not be aware of their condition. If you notice symptoms of amnesia in someone, you should immediately take them to the doctor. An examination needs to be done immediately if he experiences sudden memory loss, especially after a head injury .
The doctor will ask questions about the patient's symptoms, medical history, and medications that are currently or have been taken by the patient. If the patient has difficulty answering the questions asked, the doctor will conduct a question and answer session with family members or relatives of the patient.
In addition, the doctor will also perform a thorough physical examination, including a neurological examination (nervous system function).
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will recommend the patient to perform the following series of investigations:
- Cognitive test, to check the ability to think and remember
- Blood test , to detect infection in the brain
- MRI or CT scan , to look for damage, bleeding, and brain tumors
- Electroencephalogram (EEG), to detect electrical activity in the brain
Amnesia treatment aims to correct memory problems and treat the underlying cause of amnesia. Treatment methods that can be done include:
Until now there is no drug that can restore the memory of people with amnesia. However, doctors can prescribe medication to treat the underlying cause of the amnesia. Vitamin supplements are also sometimes given to prevent further damage to the nervous system.
Patients will be advised to undergo occupational therapy . This therapy aims to help patients recognize new information and utilize existing memories.
Use of assistive devices
The use of assistive devices, such as smartphones , telephones, and electronic agendas, will help patients remember daily activities.
In addition, notebooks and photographs, such as photos of places or photos of a person, can also be used by patients to remember events or people around them.
Amnesia can interfere with the daily life of the sufferer. If it occurs continuously, this condition can cause a decrease in quality of life. Sufferers can have difficulty at work, school, or socializing due to this condition.
If the amnesia is severe enough, some sufferers even need to be monitored or stay in a rehabilitation institution.
Amnesia is caused by damage to the brain. The best way that can be done to prevent amnesia is to avoid injury and disorders to the brain. Here are some things to do:
- Don't drink alcohol in excess
- Wear safety equipment when driving, such as a helmet when riding a motorcycle or a seat belt when driving a car
- Eating a balanced nutritious diet and maintaining an ideal body weight, to avoid stroke
- Do regular checkups to the doctor if you have an infectious disease to reduce the risk of spreading it to the brain
- Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of a stroke or brain aneurysm , such as a severe headache, numbness, or paralysis on one side of the body