Mild cognitive impairment is a notable change in thinking skills that’s limited, for the most part, to a narrow set of problems, such as impairment only in memory. Changes in concentration, attention or mental quickness may also be observed. Mild cognitive impairment generally doesn’t prevent a person from carrying out everyday tasks and being socially engaged. Researchers and physicians are still learning much about mild cognitive impairment. For many people, the condition eventually progresses to Alzheimer’s disease or another disorder causing dementia. Other people experience little progression in memory loss, and they don’t develop the whole spectrum of symptoms associated with dementia.
Many medical problems can cause memory loss or other dementia-like symptoms. Most of these conditions can be successfully treated, and your doctor can screen you for conditions that cause reversible memory impairment.
Possible causes of reversible memory loss include:
- Medications. A single medication or a certain combination of medications may result in forgetfulness or confusion.
- Minor head trauma or injury. A head injury from a fall or accident — even an injury that doesn’t result in a loss of consciousness — may cause memory problems.
- Depression or other mental health disorders. Stress, anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities.
- Alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair mental abilities. Alcohol can also cause memory loss by interacting with medications.
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency — common in older adults — can cause memory problems.
- Hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) slows the processing of nutrients to create energy for cells (metabolism). Hypothyroidism can result in forgetfulness and other thinking problems.
- Tumors. A tumor in the brain may cause memory problems or other dementia-like symptoms.
Check out Part 3