Amnesia history and symptoms
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It is critical to perform a formal and exhaustive assessment of the patient to look for any indications of memory disorders and to hear any subjective complaints. With this information, preventative measures and care can be specifically addressed to the patient's needs. A detailed history of memory loss and associated symptoms is crucial for understanding the etiology of amnesia.
Medical history questions may include:
- Can the person remember recent events (is there impaired short-term memory)?
- Can the person remember events from further in the past (is there impaired long-term memory)?
- Is there a loss of memory about events that occurred before a specific experience (anterograde amnesia)?
- Is there a loss of memory about events that occurred soon after a specific experience (retrograde amnesia)?
- Is there only a minimal loss of memory?
- Does the person make up stories to cover gaps in memory (confabulation)?
- Is the person suffering from low moods that impair concentration?
- Time pattern
- Has the memory loss been getting worse over the years?
- Has the memory loss been developing over weeks or months?
- Is the memory loss present all the time or are there distinct episodes of amnesia?
- If there are amnesia episodes, how long do they last?
- Aggravating or triggering factors
- Has there been a head injury in the recent past?
- Has the person experienced an event that was emotionally traumatic?
- Has there been a surgery or procedure requiring general anesthesia?
- Does the person use alcohol? How much?
- Does the person use illicit drugs? How much? What type?
- Other symptoms
- What other symptoms does the person have?
- Is the person confused or disoriented?
- Can they independently eat, dress, and perform similar self-care activities?
- Have they had seizures?
- Post-traumatic Amnesia: Confusion, agitation, anxiety, aggression, wandering, and behavioral changes may be observed.
- Drug-Induced Amnesia: History of new onset amnesia after starting the offending drug.
- Dissociative Amnesia: Impairment of autobiographical memory with no cognitive impairment.
- Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is possible with thorough neuropsychological testing of cognitive impairment.
- Transient global amnesia: Recent history of brain ischemia, migraine, epileptic seizure, venous congestion, psychological trauma and regain of memory in less than a day is indicative of transient global amnesia.
- Korsakoff's syndrome: Anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, confabulation, limited understandable conversation, lack of insight, apathy.
- Epileptic Amnesia: History of recent episode of epilepsy.
- Lacunar amnesia: Patient may have a distinct gap in retrograde memory.
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