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General Medical Questions
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Question : For the past month, I have noticed memory loss that I never had before. Seconds after being told a passcode, I could not remember the numbers.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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December 31, 2012
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A:

You are describing new onset of short-term memory loss. Your brain stores new information on a very temporary basis. Then, your brain must process this information. Otherwise it will be “lost.” If you’re not concentrating on new information or become distracted as you get new information, even a young person like yourself can forget information similar to what you describe.

But you said this has happened repeatedly. So you should see your doctor for an evaluation.

There are multiple possibilities for new onset short-term memory loss. One of the more common ones is emotional stress. This is even more likely if you have anxiety or depression.

Other causes include:

  • Head trauma with a concussion
  • A severe medical illness
  • High fever
  • Over-use of alcohol or drugs
  • Some medications

At your young age, I am less worried about some underlying brain disorder, such as Alzheimer’s or other dementia. But you should see your doctor to discuss your symptoms.

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