Everyone misplaces their car keys every once in a while, or wanders around a parking lot trying to figure out where they parked their car. It happens to the best of us, especially with age. But if you find yourself experiencing forgetful moments more often than usual, it may be indicative of something more than just aging. There are a number of factors you may not have considered that might be contributing to your memory loss. The following are some common causes of memory loss that may come as a surprise.
Prescription medication often comes with a whole slew of unwanted side effects. They can range from nausea and diarrhea to dizziness, depression and even memory loss. A group of prescription drugs known as statins, some of the most commonly prescribed drugs for high cholesterol in the United States, have been shown to have a side effect of memory loss. Commonly prescribed to help prevent heart disease, the FDA believes they are crucial to the health of many, but they advise that statins should be “taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.”
2. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is especially important for maintaining healthy nerve cells, and it aids in the production of both DNA and RNA. It maintains healthy brain function and keeps the protective coating around the nerves intact. Low levels of Vitamin B12 in the body can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nervousness, numbness, a tingling sensation and (you guessed it) memory loss.
3. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes one or more pauses in breathing while sleeping. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and may occur 30 or more times within an hour. The National Sleep Foundation lists memory loss and learning difficulties as common symptoms of sleep apnea. If you believe that you’re suffering from sleep apnea, check in with a doctor.
You might know that having a major stroke can greatly impact memory, but what many don’t know is that even a minor stroke, often referred to as a “silent stroke,” can cause memory loss. Silent strokes are far more common than strokes with obvious symptoms. Researchers estimate that more than one-third of people over the age of 70 have had a silent stroke. Damage from a silent stroke can accumulate, leading to memory problems that may become more severe with time.
5. Depression and Anxiety
Depression is not just mental. It can cause very real physical symptoms, including fatigue and memory loss. Researchers believe that depression impairs the brain’s ability to create long-term memories. Someone who is depressed may be too inattentive and unfocused to file events in their short-term memory. It isn’t so much that they have forgotten; it’s more likely that the memory was never stored in the first place.
Other sources of memory loss can include infections, head injuries, brain tumors and substance abuse. If you’re experiencing significant memory loss and you think there may be a problem, make an appointment with your health care provider.