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Sudden Memory Loss

Bouts of sudden loss of memory can be unnerving. Let us discuss the causes and symptoms that accompany such episodes, and how you should have it treated.
Puja Lalwani May 6, 2019
There may have been times when you yourself, or a loved one may have had a sudden bout of short term memory loss. In this situation, the affected people are unable to recollect what they did just a while ago.
It is indeed a situation that would scare the wits out of the affected people and those around them because it is so shocking that they can't remember what they were doing just five minutes ago.
Episodes of sudden loss of memory usually occur for a short-time period, where, after a while the affected individual may be able to revive her/his memory and remember all those events that he/she seemed unable to remember a while ago.


Such bouts of memory loss affect all age groups, and there may be a lot of reasons for the same. Some of them are:
  • One of the common reasons is some sort of head injury.
  • Alzheimer's disease and dementia may also lead to this condition. While these disorders are common in the elderly, it is possible that even younger adults may be affected by them.
  • Another condition known as Transient Global Amnesia triggers a bout of short-term memory loss after a stressful or traumatic event, or events that cause extreme anxiety levels. Though this is a condition that is very rare, it is likely that it may occur for some people, at some point in time before middle age.
  • Those who are affected by a brain tumor may exhibit sudden symptoms of short-term memory loss.
  • One of the many causes in the elderly, apart from the aforementioned causes, is the change in pattern of blood flow to the brain. Further, even disturbed flow of oxygen to the brain may be a cause for such a condition.
  • Those who experience stress beyond their ability to cope with it, may suddenly lose their memory. Similarly, those who are severely sleep deprived may be affected by this condition.
  • Those affected by a stroke or seizure may have trouble recalling events that occurred before stroke, where they are unable to remember what they did in the recent past.
  • When the brain is infected, it is likely to impair proper memory functioning, thereby causing this condition. Further, the intake of certain drugs known as statin drugs may also affect the ability to remember, as a side effect.


There are certain symptoms that accompany such episodes. They are:
  • Usually, when an episode of memory loss is about to occur, it is possible that the affected people may suddenly go silent and not respond to their names being called out or any question posed to them. 
This is because the effect is so sudden that they fail to comprehend their surroundings. They may fail to realize how they landed there, and may sometimes even fail to recognize who they are with.
  • It is obvious that such an episode will result in high levels of confusion because of their failure to comprehend everything around them.
  • Another symptom is the inability to perform a particular task in spite of having done it well in the past.
It is likely that the affected individual may not be able to pick up a pen to write, or fill himself/herself a glass of water during the episode. Usually sudden memory problems are accompanied by a temporary lack of proper muscle coordination.
  • The affected people may also ask the same question again and again, not only because they are confused, but also because they cannot believe that they were doing something (even something as simple as having a meal), only due to the fact that they can't remember doing any such thing.
  • Finally, they are also likely to exhibit mood swings during the event.
Whatever the causes, as soon as such a condition is experienced, consulting your doctor is of utmost importance. While some causes are mild, others may be dangerous, and if not treated properly, it is possible that the condition may worsen.
The treatment may include prescription of certain medications, therapy for memory improvement, memory improvement exercises, etc., apart from treating the actual cause of the problem. Thus, more often than not, sudden loss of memory is a symptom of another condition and not a condition in itself. 
This is why it is so important to bring such episodes to the attention of your doctor, who will then diagnose and treat the underlying condition that is causing such events.
Do not take it lightly, and do not wait for the episodes to become more frequent before you finally decide to visit a doctor. It can be dangerous, and the sooner it is treated, the easier it will be to recover.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.