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When people lose their ability to memorize data they have amnesia. Amnesia also refers to an inability to recall information that is stored in memory. In simple terms, amnesia is the loss of memory. The causes of amnesia may be organic or functional. Organic causes of amnesia may include brain damage through injury, or the use of specific drugs - usually sedative drugs. Amnesia may be one of the symptoms of some degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease.
Many people with amnesia find it helpful to use smart technology, such as a smartphone or a hand-held tablet device. With some training and practice, even people with severe amnesia can use these electronic organizers to help with day-to-day tasks. For example, smartphones can be programmed to remind them about important events or to take medications.
Low-tech memory aids include notebooks, wall calendars, pill minders, and photographs of people and places.
Transient global amnesia usually affects patients between the ages of 40 and 80. Patients with this condition are often described – wrongly – as being confused. It presents classically with an abrupt onset of severe anterograde amnesia. It is usually accompanied by repetitive questioning. The patient does not have any focal neurological symptoms. Patients remain alert, attentive, and cognition is not impaired. However, they are disoriented to time and place. Attacks usually last for 1–8 h but should be less than 24 h.