Read below about forgetfulness, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your forgetfulness from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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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 their 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 be mindful to all of these moving parts.
  • 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.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Forgetfulness

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced forgetfulness. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.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.

    Most cases of hypothyroidism require lifelong hormone replacement therapy.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Condition Involving Inability to Understand or Express Words

    Any new speech difficulty should be seen by a doctor immediately because it could be the sign of brain or nerve damage.


    Top Symptoms:
    difficulty speaking or understand words or finding the right word, loss of vision, difficulty coming up with the names of common objects or people, arm weakness
    Emergency medical service
  3. 3.Condition Causing Slurred Speech

    Slurring of one's speech could be from substance intoxication or from a stroke. A doctor needs to make this distinction. You should see one immediately.


    Top Symptoms:
    slurred speech, arm weakness, hearing voices or seeing things that aren't there, odd walking gait, hard testicle lump
    Emergency medical service

    Forgetfulness Checker

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

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  4. 4.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.

    Typically, your symptoms will dissolve over the course of a few weeks and most people are back to normal in 3 months. If symptoms persist longer, your doctor might suggest medicines or other treatments.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, anxiety, mild or moderate headache, depressed mood
    Symptoms that never occur with post-concussion syndrome:
    severe headache
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.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.

    Parkinson's disease is a lifelong condition with no cure, however, medication and behavioral modifications may help manage symptoms.

    Top Symptoms:
    anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation
    Symptoms that always occur with parkinson's disease:
    symptoms of parkinsonism
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.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.

    Uncertain. Prognosis is very dependent on what is found

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability
    Symptoms that always occur with brain tumor or mass:
    focal neurological symptoms
    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 the first line of 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:

FAQs About Forgetfulness

Here are some frequently asked questions about forgetfulness.

Why do I have sudden forgetfulness and confusion?

Sudden forgetfulness and confusion can be a sign of dehydration. As you stand, especially if you have been sitting for an extended period of time, you may have a decrease of blood flow to your brain. This may cause dizziness, confusion, and even small bouts of forgetfulness. If the forgetfulness and confusion persists or recurs, seek medical evaluation.

Can headaches cause forgetfulness?

No, headaches themselves do not commonly cause memory loss. Memory loss is a serious symptom that can be caused by a process affecting the brain. A headache and memory loss can be signs indicating a stroke. If you are experiencing headache and associated memory loss, you should seek medical evaluation.

Why am I so forgetful when I'm pregnant?

Currently, we do not know why pregnancy affects cognitive function. A large analysis of prior studies showed that memory, executive functioning, and mood were negatively affected during pregnancy. Currently, untested hypotheses attribute this to the stress of caring for and carrying a child. Additionally, the increase in hormones present during pregnancy may affect memory.

Is forgetfulness a sign of anxiety?

Yes, forgetfulness or memory problems may be a sign of anxiety. Anxiety and worry uses mental faculties that are then unavailable to both commit items to memory and to learn new skills. While some stress is useful to increase functioning, excess stress and anxiety may leave an individual unable to rest and contribute to poor performance and burnout.

Why am I tired and forgetful all the time?

Fatigue and memory loss are common symptoms across the lifespan and may be attributable to many diagnoses. The most common cause of fatigue and memory loss is sleep deprivation. Inadequate quantity or quality of sleep can have a serious effect on short term memory and can lead to fatigue and a lack of attention throughout the day.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Forgetfulness

  • Q.Are you having difficulty concentrating or thinking through daily activities?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Q.Have you had an X-Ray or a CT scan of your head or neck?

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

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Forgetfulness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced forgetfulness have also experienced:

    • 9% Fatigue
    • 5% Headache
    • 4% Difficulty Concentrating
  • People who have experienced forgetfulness were most often matched with:

    • 41% Condition Involving Inability to Understand or Express Words
    • 41% Condition Causing Slurred Speech
    • 17% Hypothyroidism
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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