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Alzheimer's Disease

Memory Problems

12/05/2011

Question:

My question is in regard to my memory. I am a 32yr old female. I was diagnosed about two years ago with graves desease(T3-thyrotoxicosis was diagnosed at first due to my labs, then graves due to how antibodies being found). However I have been having memory problems for at least 3 or more years, I can remember long term fairly okay, but when it comes to short term, like where I put my credit cards the night before, or even having them the night before, not remembering having a conversation with someone at all from a night or two before, forgetting that I made plans with friends a few nights or a week before, forgetting my pin to my debit cards, forgetting what we had for dinner the night or two before, not remembering peoples names I used to work with all the time, misplacing my keys (almost always) has been a real issue for me. My family has been getting kind of upset that I have been forgetting things all the time. I just wanted to get some feedback as to what could be causing this, and is there anything I can do to change my situation? Thank you.

Answer:

Thyroid disease can cause many problems and symptoms. Graves disease is typically thought to be an autoimmune condition that leads to thyroid hormone overproduction. Some typical clinical features include anxiety, fatigue, impaired focus, and sleep issues. If you are not concentrating well or are sleep deprived, you may not pay sufficient attention to conversations or to where you place objects. Due to those impairments, the information is not stored in your brain very well and therefore you will have difficulty recalling it later or the next day. Once your Graves disease was discovered, you were most likely treated. In some cases the treatment given may cause you to develop hypothyroidism or a low functioning gland. Hypothyroidism often causes memory loss and rarely it may cause impairment in ability to perform day to day activities due to thinking problems. I would check with your doctor to make sure that your thyroid blood levels are just in the right range. If they are, your physician should consider checking for other conditions (such as other autoimmune conditions) that can also cause memory impairment.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University