Minor memory “slips” are very common and generally are nothing to worry about. But when memory problems become pervasive and chronic, they can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem, and having a professional evaluation by a neurologist can help determine that cause so appropriate treatment can be provided.
Temporary memory loss issues can be caused by treatable issues like:
alcohol or drug abuse
use of some types of prescription medications
mental health issues including depression and anxiety disorders
Other types of memory loss are caused by dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, or from tiny strokes called transient ischemic attacks or TIAs. These issues affect the structure of the brain and are associated with permanent memory loss and other symptoms. Symptoms of these types of underlying medical causes include:
problems finding words to describe abstract concepts like feelings or situations
asking the same question over and over
getting lost easily or having difficulty finding a way home
changes in mood or behavior
taking a long time to perform simple, everyday tasks like getting dressed
Diagnosing memory problems begins with a review of the patient’s symptoms and the impact those symptoms are having on the patient’s life and the lives of his or her loved ones. An in-depth patient history and a physical exam with cognitive function tests can also provide important information. In some cases, MRI, CT scan or other testing may be performed to look for changes in the brain tissue, or Doppler ultrasound imaging may be used to evaluate the blood vessels that lead to the brain. The tests and evaluations used will depend largely on the patient’s specific symptoms and medical risk factors.
Treatment for memory problems is highly variable and requires a customized, patient-centered approach for optimal results. Today, there are many medications and other therapies available to help people with memory problems. At New York Neurology Associates, we provide patient-centered care using the most advanced options to help patients understand the cause of memory issues and get the most appropriate treatment to relieve symptoms or slow the progression of underlying diseases.