Memory Loss (Amnesia)
Memory loss can be caused by a number of factors, from short term causes such as low blood sugar or medication side effects to long term health issues such as dementia.
Treatment for long term memory loss will depend on what is causing it.
Evidence from research suggests that good control of diabetes can help prevent memory problems developing over the longer term.
Memory loss tends to become more prevalent as we get older. The NHS notes that around four in 10 people over the age of 65, in the general population, have some form of memory difficulties.
The NHS notes that around 4 in 10 people over the age of 65, in the general population, have some form of memory difficulties.
How can diabetes affect memory loss?
Memory loss in diabetes can be a short term problem brought on by too low or high blood glucose levels.
During hypoglycemia, for example, you may struggle to remember words. This is not necessarily a sign of a long term problem. In most cases, raising sugar levels over 4 mmol/l should get your memory back to normal.
If memory problems happen at other times and this significantly affects your life, speak to your GP.
Diabetes can increase the risk of developing long-term memory problems if blood glucose levels are less well controlled. High blood glucose levels, over a number of years, can damage the nerves, including those of the brain, which can increase the risk of dementia.
Research shows that good diabetes management can help prevent memory problems from developing or advancing.
Symptoms of memory loss
Symptoms of memory loss could include:
- Not being able to recall an important event in your life
- Forgetting what you have just done
- Forgetting where things in your home are
- Forgetting the names of people close to you
Some of these can happen to all of us from time to time, but if they start to occur more often than normal and cause you problems, it could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Causes of memory problems
Memory loss may caused or exacerbated by any of the following:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Head injuries or concussion
- Stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (mini-stroke)
- Underactive thyroid
- Thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency
- Traumatic events causing psychogenic amnesia
- Usage of certain medications - such as sedatives, statins or medicines for Parkinson’s disease
- Alcohol misuse
- High blood glucose levels over a long period of time
- Hypoglycemia - which should resolve once treated
Treating memory loss
Treatment for memory loss depends on the underlying cause. A number of treatments exist for Alzheimer’s, depression, stress and other causes of memory loss. Treatment may range from medication, through to lifestyle changes and talking or mindfulness therapies.
Coping with memory loss
If you are struggling to remember things on a daily basis, there are some practical tips that can help.
- Have a notepad and pen to hand to take notes of useful information – this can be very beneficial for telephone conversations
- Make to-do lists of tasks
- Keep an updated calendar
- Keep regularly used items in one designated place, such as blood glucose testing kit, glasses and keys
- Set alarms to remind you to take tablets, injections or blood test
Preventing memory loss
Good diabetes management is recommended to help prevent memory problems as well as to help your health in general.
Following a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and managing stress can all be helpful for the body and the mind.