Help Quitting Drinking
Alcohol use can either harm or protect your memory, depending on how much you consume. There is no question that heavy drinking contributes to memory loss. Excessive alcohol consumption is toxic to neurons and is the leading risk factor for Kor-sakoff's syndrome, a disorder caused by thiamine deficiency and characterized by sudden and usually permanent memory loss. On the other hand, research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption (one or two drinks per day) may help prevent dementia. If you have been drinking heavily, discontinuing or sharply reducing your alcohol consumption can help prevent further memory loss and may permit the restoration of whatever loss you have already suffered. If you do not drink, I wouldn't recommend that you start to do so. Your memory won't suffer if you avoid alcohol, especially if you follow the other measures for maintaining optimal memory.
Korsakoff's syndrome (thiamine deficiency associated with chronic alcoholism) Diencephalic amnesia can be caused by Korsakoff's syndrome (the result of a thiamine deficiency associated with chronic alcoholism), as well as by other nutritional deficiencies, traumatic brain injury, stroke, or a tumor that damages the thalamus. This type of amnesia includes deficits in executive function and insight.
With other causes of amnesia, the prospects for improvement also depend on the severity of the problem. Once a patient with thiamine deficiency and chronic alcoholism has crossed the threshold into Korsakoff's syndrome, deficits tend to be enduring. However, people with alcohol-related memory impairment that has not progressed to Korsakoff's can regain a substantial degree of memory function if they stop consuming alcohol, improve their diet, and remediate vitamin deficiency.
I have often thought that people listening to a speaker or watching a movie are very much like dreamers - they need a break every 80 minutes or so, during which they can work off some of the excess energy they have accumulated by sitting still and concentrating on the same subject (doing some gymnastics instead of having a coffee or drinking alcohol is an excellent way to work off excess tension). Whenever this unspoken rule is broken, members of an audience become restless and distracted. I am sure that companies could increase their staff's productivity dramatically by allowing them to take an 'active' break every hour and a half or so. The way things stand, workers have to rely on excuses like going to the bathroom or making a personal phone call in order to stay in tune with their biological cycle.
If you, or someone close to you, are not sure if alcohol or another substance is causing subtle memory loss, there is a simple way to find out stop taking the drug for two to three months and see if your memory improves. If it does, you have your answer, and staying off alcohol or the drug that you are using is the solution for your memory loss. But if you are unable to stop for even a few weeks, this proves that you are addicted and need to take specific steps, such as joining Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or another addiction program, to help you get over your addiction.
Alcohol abuse Drinking a little extra every day Hiding the truth about alcohol intake Critical comments from family, friends Gaps in memory for recent events Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake Help from family, friends Alcoholics Anonymous Detoxification, specialized programs Vitamin B1 (thiamine) Eliminate offending medication or reduce its dose
The importance of making sure that there is no potentially reversible cause of memory loss cannot be overemphasized. Just imagine taking a memory enhancer like ginkgo biloba or vitamin E when in fact the root cause is medication toxicity or alcohol abuse or depression or hormonal abnormalities. Not only will the memory-enhancing medication have no positive effect, but the fact that things do not improve will also mislead you into thinking that the memory loss must be the first sign of Alzheimer's disease. This can be disastrous, both emotionally and practically. Therefore, if you suffer from mild to moderate memory loss, do not automatically assume that you have age-related memory loss. Rather, you should examine your habits and daily routine to see if there might be an identifiable, potentially reversible, cause.
This doesn't mean that you should start drinking if you're opposed to using alcohol there are many other ways to protect your memory. But if you do drink, holding your alcohol intake to one or two beverages per day could keep your brain healthy. I advise patients to limit their use of alcohol one or two drinks a day seems to be a sensible amount for protecting memory and optimizing other health concerns. In terms of alcohol equivalency, one drink equals twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of distilled spirits. This doesn't mean that nondrinkers should start drinking, but this benefit is worth noting if you do drink alcohol.
Mary O'Brien illustrates that steady, moderate- to high-volume alcohol consumption can affect your memory. But why some people are more vulnerable than others remains a bit of a mystery. Genetic factors can play an important role people from a few Native American tribes are so genetically sensitive to alcohol that they can lose control and become violent after only one or two drinks. Clearly, psychological and social influences are also important. Alcohol withdrawal causes severe tremor, anxiety, sleeplessness, and occasionally hallucinations, together with severe craving for alcohol. Many alcoholics are terrified of reexperiencing these withdrawal symptoms and try to avoid them by never staying sober. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms require aggressive treatment, including hospitalization. Over the long term, many people benefit by joining Alcoholics Anonymous.
I recalled that at her first visit, she had responded to the question about alcohol use by stating that she drank a little every day. After I received her alarming test results, I decided to probe further into this issue. Mary then revealed that she had four shots of whiskey every evening, a long-standing habit. Her husband confirmed her report. He also mentioned that she had begun to make up stories to fill the gaps in her recent memory, a tendency that is called confabulation. Mary said that she had played with her grandchildren the previous weekend when in fact she hadn't seen them for a month. Confabulation is common in both Alzheimer's disease and Korsakoffs syndrome, which is the diagnostic term for a common type of alcohol-induced brain damage and memory loss. Heavy drinking damages the liver, which in turn causes thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Thiamine is essential for proper utilization of glucose, which is the brain's main energy source. As a result, alcohol-induced...
No matter how old you are, it's not too late to take steps to prevent memory loss. In this chapter, I review thirteen strategies for achieving and maintaining optimal memory. Some are good health habits that can reduce the risk of illnesses that might impair your memory as well as the likelihood that you'll need medications with memory-related side effects. Others are strategies that appear to strengthen the brain and enhance cognitive function. Best of all, they're neither expensive nor difficult to carry out. Obtain regular exercise Put out the cigarettes Take vitamins Involve yourself with others Maintain healthful nutrition Aim for a good night's sleep Learn something new Moderate alcohol intake Engage in life Manage stress
Fortunately, many causes of memory dysfunction are preventable or treatable. You can consume less alcohol. You can eat sensibly and exercise regularly to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, both of which can lead to cerebrovascular compromise and reduced blood flow to the brain. I give a complete description of these and other strategies in Chapter 9. In addition, treating underlying conditions that cause memory loss (such as hypertension) can help keep your memory in optimal condition.
Procrastination is a common malady in today's world Putting things off can become a habit that often involves fears, self-doubts and a low tolerance for the unpleasant. This could later lead to feelings of helplessness, alcoholism, depression or anxiety. Procrastination is not simply laziness, but a complex psychological problem.
Because there are so many different types of disabilities and each person's disability affects him or her in potentially different ways, it is impossible to list all of them here. In addition, many people have nonvisible disabilities that can affect their ability to function as others might and create learning challenges for them (e.g., diabetes, dyslexia, alcoholism, and cancer). Such participants may not always be willing to disclose their disability to others and in some cases have learned consciously to mask them from others for personal reasons. Often this is done because of either embarrassment or the fear of discrimination should their disability become known. At any rate, respect rights and desires of all your participants and attempt to provide a learning environment that is accessible to everyone.
We then reviewed the effect of excessive and continuous stress on cardiovascular health, emotional well-being, and brain function. I pointed out that he had relinquished many of the activities that used to provide him with opportunities for recreation and stress release. He understood how time away from his work could paradoxically result in greater professional productivity. He promised to resume his workout routine and get back on schedule for weekly tennis matches with his oldest son. Without needing a lecture from me, he indicated his intention to reduce his alcohol consumption by regaining his discipline during his business lunches.
Dementia is a progressive deterioration of memory and other cognitive functions. Although extremely rare in people younger than sixty years old, dementia becomes increasingly more common with age. The incidence is about 10 percent at age sixty-five and doubles every ten years thereafter. The leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease other causes include cerebrovascular disease, Lewy-body disease, Parkinson's disease, alcoholism, HIV, and rare degenerative brain disorders, such as Pick's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Hunt-ington's disease.
Like stress, alcohol in moderation can be good for your memory. Research has found that light-to-moderate alcohol use appears to reduce the risk of dementia. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003, people over age sixty-five who consumed up to one drink a day had roughly half the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared with people who didn't drink at all. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, had a 22 percent higher risk than did nondrinkers. Excessive alcohol consumption inflicts damage in two ways through direct toxic effects on neurons and by causing a deficiency of vitamin Bj (thiamine). Thiamine deficiency can cause
I had guessed that Myra was fifty, not seventy years old. And with my earlier impression of Cynthia being eighty rather than sixty-four, the contrast between the two sisters was even more striking to me. So I asked Myra about her own health habits. She went through the usual litany a sound diet, regular exercise, no smoking, low alcohol intake, and a mellow, low-stress approach to life. Finally, she revealed that she was taking Premarin, a standard estrogen-replacement therapy for postmenopausal women.
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