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Learn about your forgetfulness, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your forgetfulness from our A.I. Symptom Checker. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Your Forgetfulness May Also be Known as:
Forget instructions
Forgetting instructions
Forgetting things
Forgot instructions
Trouble remembering words

Forgetfulness Symptoms

How many times have you found yourself frantically rifling through a purse or backpack for keys? Forgotten the day of the week? Or even forgotten the name of that person you just met?

We all forget things every now and then, but sometimes, if not addressed, memory issues can begin to significantly interfere with day-to-day life. It is important to follow-up on symptoms of forgetfulness and get appropriate care.

Forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, so it is important to be able to differentiate between age-related symptoms of memory loss and indicators of more serious conditions.

Forgetfulness symptoms of normal aging:

  • Forgetting where the car is parked in a full parking lot
  • Getting lost in a new neighborhood or city
  • Missing a monthly payment or a due date for an assignment
  • Forgetting the day of week and remembering it later
  • Forgetting which word to use
  • Misplacing things occasionally
  • Forgetting the name of a person you just met

Forgetfulness symptoms of serious memory loss/difficulty:

  • Forgetting the route home
  • Getting lost in a familiar location
  • Missing payments for multiple, monthly bills or difficulty keeping up with average workload
  • Losing track of the date, time or year
  • Trouble having a conversation
  • Frequently losing things and being unable to find them
  • Forgetting names of family members or close friends

Forgetfulness Causes Overview

Causes of forgetfulness are varied and can be separated into three main categories: medical, psychological and environmental.

Medical forgetfulness causes:

  • Dementia: Dementia is an umbrella medical term used to describe several diseases that cause difficulties in memory and thinking. Dementia is a serious cause of memory loss that interferes with a person's independence and daily activities.
  • Thyroid Issues: A malfunctioning thyroid can affect memory (as well as disturb sleep and cause depression, both of which can be causes of forgetfulness)
  • Medications: That cold medication you are taking for that runny nose may be contributing to your forgetfulness. Cold and allergy remedies as well as many other medications such as antidepressants and blood pressure drugs are known to cause confusion and forgetfulness.

Psychological forgetfulness causes:

  • Depression: Feeling significantly down can cause forgetfulness, confusion and other problems that disrupt your day-to-day.
  • Anxiety: Those with serious worries often have trouble remembering things due to many other issues competing for attention.

Environmental forgetfulness causes:

  • Head trauma or injury: Any situation that results in a blow to the head (car accident, fall, sports such as football or rugby, etc.) can produce symptoms of memory loss.
  • Lack of sleep: A good night's rest is the brain's way of recovering each day in order to work well the next. If your brain is struggling due to lack of sleep your memory will struggle as well.
  • Stress: When aspects of life such as family, school, work, etc. become overwhelming, it can be difficult to remember all of the different pieces.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can interfere with short-term memory even after the effects of the alcohol have worn off. Chronic alcoholism can lead to long-term memory issues.

Top 5 Forgetfulness Causes

  1. 1.Post - Concussion Syndrome

    Postconcussion syndrome is a condition that happens after a mild brain injury. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty with concentrating and sleep disturbances.

    You should discuss with your physician whether your symptoms can be a result of a recent concussion.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability
    Symptoms that never occur with post-concussion syndrome:
    severe headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Parkinson's Disease

    Parkinson's disease is a lifelong condition movement disorder. It is caused by the malfunction and death of nerve cells which results in symptoms like tremors.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, depressed mood, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with parkinson's disease:
    hidden: parkinsonism cardinal symptoms
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  3. 3.Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck, no longer produces adequate levels of hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for many bodily functions including breathing, heart rate, and metabolism.

    You should visit your primary care physician. Hypothyroidism is a complex condition that is usually treated with hormone replacement therapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Parkinson's Disease

    Parkinson's disease is a lifelong condition movement disorder. It is caused by the malfunction and death of nerve cells which results in symptoms like tremors.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, constipation, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with parkinson's disease:
    hidden: parkinsonism cardinal symptoms
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Brain Tumor or Mass

    A brain lesion can be cancerous or non-cancerous. Nonetheless, they are a potentially serious issue and should be discussed with a physician.

    You should seek care today, since your symptoms indicate that something serious might be going on. In order to diagnose a brain lesion, imaging must be conducted. It is likely you will be sent to a brain specialist.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability
    Symptoms that always occur with brain tumor or mass:
    hidden: any focal neuro sign
    Urgency:
    In-person visit

Forgetfulness Treatments and Relief

If you notice that your symptoms of forgetfulness mostly fall into the age-related category, try changing your routine as first line treatment or using simple tools to boost your memory and help you think clearly.

  • Get a good night's sleep: Consistently getting a solid eight or nine hours of sleep at night can work wonders for your memory and concentration.
  • Write things down: Jotting things down on paper or even in an app on your phone is a great way to stimulate your brain and keep details in your memory.
  • Set reminders: A pop-up reminder on your phone or computer is a quick way to make sure you don't forget the little details during your day-to-day.
  • Make a schedule: Making a schedule or creating lists that outline tasks you need to accomplish will help you remember the important things.
  • Inventory your medications: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect that a new medication is keeping you in a fog and discuss alternatives you can take instead.

If your forgetfulness symptoms are significantly interfering with your day-to-day, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will perform tests to determine the cause and degree of your memory impairment.

After the initial evaluation, your doctor may suggest:

  • Therapy: Working with a professional is the best way to address underlying problems like depression or anxiety that may be contributing to memory problems.
  • Medication: There are currently several medications available for treating some forms of dementia.

Call 911 and see a doctor immediately if you have the following symptoms:

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Forgetfulness

  • Q.Do you currently smoke?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Q.Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our forgetfulness symptom checker.

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Forgetfulness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced forgetfulness have also experienced:

    • 9% Fatigue
    • 4% Headache
    • 3% Difficulty Concentrating
  • People who have experienced forgetfulness were most often matched with:

    • 20% Hypothyroidism
    • 1% Post - Concussion Syndrome

Check my forgetfulness symptoms

Try our forgetfulness symptom checker to diagnose your current condition

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Check my forgetfulness symptoms

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having forgetfulness symptoms

Check my symptoms