Transient Global Amnesia

1 What is Transient Global Amnesia?

Transient global amnesia (TGA) is characterized by sudden, temporary loss of memory.

Patient finds it difficult to recollect events before, during, and sometimes after a stressful event that trigger amnesia.  For a moment the patient may forget how or when he/she reached the place. They tend to repeat the questions as they forget the response given for the same.

The person may find it difficult to recollect events and experiences that happened during the day. In some cases, they may draw a blank about events that happened few years back.

They do not forget their identity or people. It is a rare case, more commonly seen in people aged 50-70 years.

The onset of symptoms is sudden and may remain for a day or so. Diagnosis is based on symptoms.

This condition does not have any specific treatment, but the underlying issue can be treated successfully. 

2 Symptoms

Sudden onset of anterograde amnesia is the most common symptom of transient global amnesia.

The person is able to remember his identity, despite the memory loss. Cognitive abilities like recognizing faces and objects, or following directions are not affected.

The loss of memory lasts for 1-8 hours, and then gradually comes back to normal. In some rare cases the memory loss may last for up to 24 hours. Seizures are not noticed during the period of amnesia. The person repeats the same question as they are unable to recollect the response given earlier.

In most of the cases, TGA occurs only once in a life time. In some cases, it may be repeated. Confusion gradually clears after an episode of TGA.

All of them recover fully after an episode, but they may be unable to recollect anything during an episode. 

3 Causes

The actual cause of transient global amnesia (TGA) is not known. Migraines, seizures, blockage of arteries supplying blood to the brain are all implied in causing this condition.

But, all of them lack a strong scientific evidence as the etiologic factor of TGA. Some other events that are thought to be triggering agents of this condition include

  • Large doses of certain medications like barbiturates
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Immersion in hot or cold water
  • Physical exertion
  • Emotional stress
  • Medical procedures like endoscopy
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Mild head injury or trauma

Age and history of migraine are the two major risk factors for TGA. It is most commonly found in people above 50 years. And the risk of having TGA is higher if you have a history of migraines when compared to those who do not have migraines.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of transient global amnesia (TGA) is based on the symptoms. Care is taken to rule out chances of other conditions like stroke, head injury, and seizures that result in similar symptoms.

Physical examination checks the neurological functioning like reflexes, muscle strength, coordination, balance, and muscle tone.

Abnormalities in electrical activity and circulation in the brain is noted by different imaging techniques. MRI, EEG, and CT scan are commonly used to visualize brain waves, blood vessels, and abnormalities in brain structure.

5 Treatment

No specific treatment is required for transient global amnesia (TGA). Treatment, if used, focuses on controlling underlying causes, if there are any. 

6 Prevention

There are no conventional methods of prevention for transient global amnesia (TGA), as the actual cause of the condition is not known.

Avoiding some of the implied causes of the disease like strenuous physical activity, and sudden immersion in cold and hot water, helps to avert TGA. 

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

There are no definitive alternative remedies for transient global amnesia (TGA). Almonds and walnuts are suggested to improve functioning of brain.

Almond oil inhalations are used to control weakness in brain. Figs and raisins are also used to improve the functioning of nerves. Phosphorous and potassium supplements are used to boost nerve function.

Among the herbs, rosemary oil and rosemary tea are recommended for controlling mental fatigue

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with transient global amnesia.

Care should be taken to avoid strenuous physical activity, especially if the person has a history of migraines.

Enjoy a good diet with essential nutrients that enhance the functioning of brain.

Sample rest and stress management are also very important in maintaining good brain health. 

9 Risks and Complications

Emotional distress that accompanies transient global amnesia (TGA) is the only known direct complication. 

10 Related Clinical Trials