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U.S. Food and Drug Administration researchers say that some minor memory lapses such as forgetting what day it is or where you left your car keys are perfectly normal. But putting your keys in the fridge and completely forgetting about it may indicate some serious health issues.
Doctors say that memory loss that hinders your normal, day-to-day activity such as repeated mishaps in driving your car, keeping personal hygiene or balancing a checkbook should be a reason of concern.
You should also be worried and ponder a medical assessment when you constantly miss appointments or forget where your car was parked. Other symptoms that may point to an underlying neurological problem include forgetting entire conversations or the names of your loved ones, saying the same thing over and over again or asking the same question n times over in a discussion.
Another sign you should not overlook is memory loss getting worse.
On the other hand, memory loss is not linked exclusively to Alzheimer’s and dementia. It can also be triggered by lifestyle factors and other conditions including having an unhealthy diet, smoking or abusing alcohol, high cholesterol and blood pressure, being socially isolated, allowing your brain to go out of shape by not reading and learning new skills such as gardening, and so on.
Stress, depression, some medications, HIV, herpes or syphilis infections, concussions, sleep loss, thyroid problems, B1 and B12 vitamin deficiencies may also be behind recurrent memory lapses.
FDA researchers explained that it is normal for people to fail to remember some things such as names of new acquaintances as they age. This situation is also known as mild cognitive impairment which is not stopping patients from carrying out their normal day-to-day activities.
Dementia, on the other hand, lowers the quality of living as it hampers daily activities. Memory lapses are also more severe and often irreversible. Dementia can be triggered by several factors, but it usually stems from Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that affects brain cells and while there is not a standard test to detect it, it can be obvious in biopsies and necropsies. In the U.S., about 5 million people live with the condition. In less than three decades, the number is expected to nearly triple.
The neuro degenerative disease affects people aged 65 or older but there are patients in their 40s and 50s that can develop a rare type of the condition called early onset Alzheimer’s disease. About 5 percent of Alzheimer’s patients are affected by early onset AD.
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