There are many factors that can affect memory so if you notice that your memory is not as sharp as it used to be, don’t panic. It does not automatically mean that you have Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. You may be worrying unnecessarily but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to see a doctor to check out the cause of the problem.
The internet is not a substitute for seeing a qualified medical professional who will do a proper evaluation and run whatever tests are necessary. When you see your doctor he will check your age, any medications that you might be taking, your general health and also your sleep patterns and diet.
Here are some of the things that can affect our memories:
Many women report that they become more forgetful in their middle years, as their hormone levels drop. HRT may help with this and it is a good idea to discuss the issue when having a gynaecological examination.
If you are stressed about personal or money problems, working long hours without sufficient breaks and are seriously stressed in general, your head will be buzzing with all sorts of things to worry about and you won’t focus on what is going on around you. The first step to a good memory is actually to pay attention to what you are being told or need to remember and you can’t do that if your mind is elsewhere. Try to get a grip on what is going on in your life, work out a plan of action to reduce your stress levels and take professional advice if necessary. Not everyone is brilliant at multi-tasking so you may need to compartmentalise more in order to function efficiently.
Lack of sleep.
Ask any parent of a newborn infant how their memory is doing and they will tell you that it is very difficult to remember anything when you only get a few hours uninterrupted sleep a night. A good night’s sleep is vital to brain health. Luckily babies grow and that phase in parenthood passes but if you are in a situation where you regularly don’t get more than a few hours sleep a night or suffer from insomnia you should speak to your doctor.
Medical conditions such as seizure disorders (epilepsy), TBI (traumatic brain injury), Meniere’s disease and tinnitus and several other conditions can affect short term memory. Practical help is available to work around this and if you are under medical supervision, please discuss this issue with your doctor. Sometimes the medications used to treat these conditions can also cause memory problems and your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives or adjust your dosage if this is a significant problem. Don’t, however, adjust your medication yourself without medical supervision as this can be dangerous.
Side Effects from Medication
Memory problems may be side effects of drugs used to treat common conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, prostate problems, depression and so on. If you have recently been put on a new medication and notice a dramatic difference in your memory, don’t stop taking the medication – make an appointment to see your doctor and explain the situation to him.
- Uncontrolled diabetes and metabolic syndrome.Uncontrolled diabetes and metabolic syndrome can also affect your memory. If your blood sugar is unstable it affects brain function, making you very tired and unable to concentrate. In mild cases your doctor may put you on a strict diet to see if that stabilises the condition. In severe cases you may need to have a daily drug regime too. Once again, this is something that only a doctor can handle. If you are overweight or obese and diabetes runs in the family, it is certainly worth getting checked out.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, a poor diet of too many refined carbohydrates and erratic mealtimes can also affect blood sugar levels. If you seldom leave your desk and live mainly on takeaways, junk food and gallons of coffee to stay awake, your brain is trying to run on the wrong fuel. Small amounts of coffee through the day are fine but gallon-size heavily sweetened fancy coffees and colas can make you jittery and unable to focus, as well as making your blood sugar levels spike and crash. Switching to a healthier eating plan and cutting back on caffeine can make a big difference. Taking a walk during your lunch break can also be a great way of giving your brain the opportunity to get your thoughts in order.
These are just some of the things that can affect our memories. We ourselves are not doctors so why not make an appointment to see your doctor and discuss your concerns with him or her? It could set your mind at rest and give you the incentive you need to regain control over your memory issues.