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Memory loss can be partial or total and it is normal when it comes with aging. Memory loss is the outcome of memory disorders Sudden memory loss is usually a result of brain trauma and it may be permanent or temporary. When it is caused by medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, the memory loss is gradual and tends to be permanent. Otherwise the condition is temporary and only affects memories relating to a portion of one's experience.
Brain trauma is not the only factor that can cause sudden memory loss. It may appear as a side effect of statin drugs that are used as treatment for those who have hypercholesterolemia. Major causes of sudden loss of memory are strokes. Other causes are long lasting and recurrent illnesses such as meningitis or epilepsy.
Memory loss can have many causes:
- Alzheimer's disease is an illness which can cause mild to severe memory loss.
- Parkinson's disease is a genetic defect which may result in memory loss.
- Huntington's disease is an inherited disease which can result in memory loss.
- It is sometimes a side effect of chemotherapy in which cytotoxic drugs are used to treat cancer.
- Certain forms of mental illness also have memory loss as a key symptom, including fugue states and the much more famous Dissociative Identity Disorder.
- Stress-related activities are another factor which can result in memory loss.
- It can also be caused by traumatic brain injury, of which a concussion is a form.
The symptoms of memory loss depend from person to person. They usually occur gradually and they may be different in intensity depending on what is causing the condition. From remembering dates and names, going out on errands and forgetting their purpose or getting easily lost to having difficulties in performing familiar tasks such as driving or baking. Confusion or decreased alertness may be the first symptom of memory loss and also of a serious illness, particularly in older adults. 
The most worrying symptoms are not those related to things that people forget to do. Some patients may have problems in mixing up words for objects or can have trouble understanding or taking part in a conversation. Being unable to make a simple decision can suggest that something is not working as it should and a medical advice should be sought. 
Whether an individual suffers from memory loss is not decided only based on one's symptoms. In order to diagnose the condition a doctor will obtain a detailed medical history of the patient. The patient will also undergo several neuropsychological tests that will focus on his or her memory functions. Several other medical exams such as an electroencephalography, an MRI, or a CT scan can be performed in order to establish an accurate diagnosis.
Sudden trauma cannot really be foreseen by anyone so there is no actual way in which one could prevent this condition. However, seen that the most common cause of memory loss are brain traumas (especially those resulting from head injury), people should take some preventative measures, such as wearing the seat belt while driving or a helmet while biking. 
Eating nutritious foods and reducing stress can prevent in some way the symptoms of the condition. Avoiding risk factors such as abusing alcohol or being exposed to toxic chemicals may also help. People that have high blood pressure have an increased risk for strokes and therefore for memory loss. They should try keeping their blood pressure under control and if possible adjust their life style by quitting smoking and exercising more.
- ↑ Confusion, Memory Loss, and Altered Alertness Retrieved on 2010-03-10
- ↑ What Are the Most Common Memory Loss Symptoms? Retrieved on 2010-03-10
- ↑ Sudden Memory Loss Causes and Diagnosis Retrieved on 2010-03-10
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