Unexplained memory loss in your old age can be caused by a number of factors, and has a number of solutions.
That’s according to Kildare GP Dr Siobhan Chidley in this week’s Ask the GP on Lunchtime Live.
A 70-year-old woman got in contact to say she has been experiencing brain fog, memory loss and has lost “all interest in things” – but still doesn’t know why.
“I have had scans and I’ve got the all-clear,” she said.
“It's been suggested that it could be menopause related, but I'm long past that stage.”
Dr Chidley said the kind of scans this woman took are important and she should contact her GP to figure out if she needs more scans.
“The more concerning thing that I'm thinking there is anxiety and no real interest in things,” she said.
“Has anything changed in this listener's life? Are there any deaths in the family, anything that's changed lifestyle-wise, is she still getting out?”
Dr Chidley said Alzheimer’s and dementia can become more common among elderly people, but it’s also important to assess your mental health.
“Often a low mood and bit of anxiety can be well-treated by a GP,” she said.
“There are doctors who deal with patients who are over 70 and are battling with memory loss, and there are a lot of memory loss clinics.”
Another listener told Dr Chidley they are going through withdrawal symptoms after being taken off anti-depressants, including anxiety, nausea and being unable to sleep.
The GP said it’s important to consider why the listener was taken off anti-depressants.
“Is it just a resurgence of the anxiety that they made them start on them in the first place?” she asked.
“Perhaps go back to your GP to relook at it and see if you actually need to carry on with it.”
Smoking and cholesterol
One listener asked Dr Chidley what the normal cholesterol level is for a 29-year-old woman, and how to reduce it if it’s too high.
“I feel quite young to have cholesterol issues,” she said.
Dr Chidley said no one is “too young” to have high cholesterol levels.
“You want your cholesterol below 5.2,” she explained. “Cholesterol is quite a tricky thing to interpret... you have your good cholesterol and your bad cholesterol.
“But as a 29-year-old, the first thing I would make sure is that she's not smoking - smoking really elevates their cholesterol.
“The other thing is all those lifestyle measures – drinking water, avoiding fatty foods, 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.”
Listen to more questions and answers here: