Common ailments

Memory loss

I am 55 years old and, recently, I have become unable to remember things that I would normally have a clear recollection of.  I am worried this may be an early sign of dementia.

Firstly, rest assured that your problem is not very likely to be a sign of dementia. Dementia usually occurs in people over the age of 70, though it can rarely occur in people younger than this.

Your memory loss is much more likely to be caused by something more common. Generally, we GPs find that most patients who see us about memory loss are most likely to be suffering from anxiety, stress or depression. Stress and anxiety can get in the way of concentration. When you are feeling tense, your ability to remember can suffer. Being depressed can make it difficult to focus and pay attention, which can also affect memory.

Other less common causes of memory loss include, drinking too much alcohol, an underactive thyroid gland, some types of medication and a vitamin B deficiency. Good nutrition which includes high quality proteins and fats is important for brain function.

If you find that your memory problems are interfering with your daily life, I would advise that you speak to your GP who can carry out an assessment and more accurately find out what your symptoms are. Your family history and your lifestyle will also be taken into account and your GP may suggest taking a small blood sample to help with a diagnosis and the best course of treatment for you.

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