October 1, 2009

Causes and Diagnosis of Transient Global Amnesia

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Transient global amnesia is not as grave as it sounds as it is a sudden but temporary episode of amnesia. In this disorder, the patient is simply unable to recall recent events. The long term memory is also affected in this disorder and you are unable to recall things that happened a while ago. This disorder hasn’t yet been associated with the neurological conditions such as seizures, stroke, injury or trauma. It is simply put, a temporary loss of memory where you do not recall minor events and therefore get disturbed.

Transient global amnesia fortunately is quite a rare disorder. It is not common to come across patients who have had more than a single episode of amnesia. On an average, a single episode of transient global amnesia lasts for about six hours. Most patients often experience an impaired ability to retain any new information along with a loss of memory of recent events. Some patients are able to remember what happened before the episode as well as after. However there is always absolutely no recollection of what happened during the episode. This makes it extremely difficult to cope with the disorder and makes it an extremely frightening experience.


Stress is the most common trigger for this disorder. An incident which is emotionally stressful can trigger an episode. Physical distress is also known to be a possible trigger of transient global amnesia. Sudden change in body temperature due to immersion in water, stressful sexual intercourse, severe emotional distress and prolonged strenuous activity are all causes and possible triggers of an episode. The actual biological cause of this disorder still remains unknown. However it has been seen that most people who have had episodes of transient global amnesia, suffer from severe migraines. It is possible that the veins that carry oxygen to the brain get depressed; the supply of oxygen to the brain gets cut off and therefore an episode is caused.


Since only amnesia can be misleading for an exact diagnosis, usually medical practitioners try to eliminate symptoms so that they can pin point to transient global amnesia. The first thing that the doctor tries to ascertain is that an episode occurred and was witnessed by another person. Then the doctors check for signs that personal identity has been retained by the patient despite the episode. The patient is also checked to see whether the cognitive faculties are functioning normally.