Forgetfulness – Causes and Symptoms
You go to the grocery store for milk and come back with bags full of groceries ... but no milk. You meet someone on the street who greets you warmly by name, and you hate to admit it, but you don't have a clue what his name is. This type of forgetfulness is annoying and sometimes embarrassing, but it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. It is probably just a by-product of your busy life.
Sometimes, however, long periods of forgetfulness can signal a physical or emotional problem. If you forget the name of your spouse or child, or forget important facts — like where you live — you may need to see your doctor. He can help you determine the cause of your memory problems.
Stress, anxiety, and just not getting enough sleep can cause your memory to become a little fuzzy. Prescription drugs can sometimes cause forgetfulness as a side effect. See your doctor, and if he determines that you're healthy but just forgetful, you may have to resort to the old trick of tying a string to your finger. Of course, then you'll have to remember why you tied the string there.
It's time to see your doctor if you have forgetfulness and:
- Speech problems
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe headache
- Loss of vision or visual disturbances
These symptoms could mean you have a brain tumor. See your doctor immediately for a diagnosis.
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Lack of enjoyment in activities or life in general
Depression is a common condition, especially as you age. Physical problems, such as an illness, medication, or hormonal changes, can bring it on. So can social or psychological factors. Don't feel you have to fight it alone. Get help as soon as possible.
- Persistent fatigue
- Joint or muscle pain
- Mood swings and/or depression
If you have the above symptoms, you may have chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision or double vision
- Weakness in your arms or legs
You may be experiencing a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is a temporary brain disturbance that usually clears up within 24 hours. It is also possible you have had a mild stroke. See your doctor immediately.
- Difficulty controlling hand movements
If you have been exposed to extremely cold temperatures, you may be suffering from hypothermia, which means your body temperature is dangerously low.
- Sleep problems
- Personality changes
- Trouble finding the right words to express yourself
These symptoms may mean that you are in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.