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Transient Global Amnesia

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 2, 2022.

What is transient global amnesia?

Transient global amnesia (TGA) is a sudden, temporary loss of memory. You may not be able to remember information or experiences from the recent past, or remember new information. For example, you may not know where you are or how you got there. You may not remember information you are told, and you may repeat the same questions. Your memory usually returns within 24 hours.

What causes TGA and what other symptoms may occur ?

The cause of TGA is unknown. TGA may be triggered by a stressful condition such as extreme heat, cold, shock, fright, or intense physical activity. You may have other symptoms such as a headache, dizziness, or nausea.

How is transient global amnesia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you or someone close to you about any medical conditions you have or medicines you take. He will also ask questions about your memory loss, and if you have any other symptoms. You may need any of the following:

  • A neurologic exam is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show healthcare providers how well your brain works. Healthcare providers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They will also test your memory. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.
  • An MRI takes pictures of your brain to show if there are any signs of brain injury. You may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell a healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell a healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Blood tests may be done to look for the cause of your amnesia such as infection or vitamine B1 deficiency.

How is TGA treated?

There is no treatment needed for TGA. TGA usually does not cause permanent memory problems. Your risk of having another episode of TGA is low.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You develop new symptoms.
  • You have other episodes of amnesia.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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