Transient Global Amnesia

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Transient global amnesia is a sudden but temporary interlude of memory loss. It isn’t attributed to more common neurological conditions such as stroke, epilepsy, or head injuries. During these episodes of transient amnesia, a persons recall of recent events simply vanish, so a person can’t remember anything of an event that just happened. The memory of what happened that day, that week, or even that year is a mystery, although that person fully understands who they are and most likely their family members.

Experiencing or witnessing an occurrence of this type of amnesia can be frightening, but fortunately the duration of an episode of transient global amnesia lasts on average for approximately 6 hours. Also, the condition is rare to begin with so a recurrence is uncommon. Even though when an episode of this type of amnesia does occur and a person remembers nothing of the event, their memory is otherwise fine.


The main symptom of transient amnesia is short term memory loss. It is also important to rule out other possible causes of amnesia.

The criteria for diagnosing transient global amnesia are:

*Sudden onset of memory loss, verified by a witness
*Normal cognition (ability to recognize and name familiar objects and follow simple directions, for example)
*Duration of no more than 24 hours
*Retention of personal identity despite memory loss
*Gradual return of memory
*Absence of signs indicating damage to a particular area of the brain (limb paralysis, *Involuntary movement or impaired word recognition, for example)
*No evidence of seizures during the period of amnesia
*No history of active epilepsy or recent head injury

Additional signs and symptoms

*Pins and needles sensation
*Cold hands and feet
*Powerful expression of emotion
*Chest or neck pain
*visual Disturbance
*Racing heart

Risk Factors

Transient global amnesia about the same amount of men as women. Also, high blood pressure and high cholesterol does not seem to have an impact on this type of amnesia.
.Mostly transient amnesia affect people between the ages of fifty six and seventy five. People older and younger are not as prone and children rarely are affected. If  you are younger than fifty six and have experienced migraines in your lifetime, your chances of having this type of amnesia are significantly higher.

When To Seek Medical Advice

Someone who is experiencing memory loss may not have the where withal to call an ambulance, it may be necessary for someone else to call. Transient global amnesia itself is not life threatening, although it can be frightening, but a persons sense of preservation is not threatened. However, it can be difficult for an observer to distinguish between this type of amnesia from life threatening conditions that can also cause sudden memory loss like a stroke or a seizure. Therefore, if someone is seemingly normal at one moment, to total confusion about what just happened, medical attention should be considered.

Tests and Diagnosis

It is important to check a patient for the more serious conditions that can also cause sudden memory loss such as stroke, seizure or a head injury. The process would start with a neurological exam, checking reflexes, muscle strength, coordination and balance. Also questions to judge thinking and memory are important, questions like time and date and the current president, and a random list of words.


It’s important to understand that transient global amnesia is not a risk factor for stroke, but there can be a lot of emotional stress involved. Anyone who has an episode of this type of amnesia is likely to be unsettled, and there is always worry of a reoccurrence or an underlying disease. A counselor or psychotherapist can help, or a physician can go over the neurological exam and diagnostic tests.

Treatment and Drugs

No treatment is needed for transient global amnesia. It’s self-limited and has no confirmed after-effects.

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Source by Paul Davidson

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