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What Is Transient Global Amnesia?

by KeithC
  • Overview

    Transient global amnesia is the sudden onset of total loss of recall of short-term memory that cannot be attributed to any other neurological disorder. It can be the loss of memories of the day, month or even year. Patients afflicted with global transient amnesia remember who they are and those they know well, but not how they arrived at the current point in time.
  • Symptoms

    In addition to loss of short-term memory, symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, racing heartbeat, fear of dying and pins-and-needles sensation. Other characteristics include no damage to the brain and retention of personal identity despite memory loss.
  • Significance

    Transient global amnesia may last for up to six hours, and there are no known harmful effects to the brain. Memory will gradually return.
  • Triggering Events

    The cause of transient global amnesia is unknown; however, it has been linked to trigger events. These events include immersion in cold water, stressful or traumatic situations, surgery and sexual intercourse.
  • When to See a Doctor

    Any person who suddenly loses his ability understand his surroundings or becomes too confused to express himself should seek immediate medical attention. Though transient global amnesia is harmless, it is impossible to distinguish it from other life-threatening disorders without testing.
  • Warning

    You should always consult your health care provider any time you suffer from lost time, memory loss or loss of cognition. These symptoms could be an indicator of another life-threatening disease or disorder.

    References & Resources