Thursday, September 29, 2022

What Causes Blackouts And Memory Loss

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Can Stress Cause Blackouts

How alcohol causes blackouts and affects memories

If a person experiences blackouts as a result of stress, this is known as a psychogenic blackout. While these blackouts are similar to syncope and epileptic blackouts, the causes are different.

Experts believe that when people are experiencing a threatening feeling, thought, or memory, it can overwhelm them so much that it induces a seizure.

Some symptoms of psychogenic blackouts include:

  • fainting and falling
  • jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • losing control of the bladder and bowel
  • going blank and feeling out of touch with the surroundings
  • not being able to remember the blackout

What Problems Can Cause Fainting

Here are some of the more common causes of faints:

Common faint : this is also known as vasovagal syncope. It is the most common cause of fainting. NMS can occur in various situations. These include:

  • Fear.
  • After prolonged standing, especially in hot places .
  • When wearing tight collars that constrict the neck.

During attacks, you may look pale and feel sweaty. Your eyes will usually stay open.

Orthostatic hypotension: this is a fall in blood pressure on standing up, which can cause fainting. It can occur:

  • Due to medication prescribed to lower blood pressure.
  • During being sick or experiencing runny stools and other reasons for having a lack of fluid in the body .
  • As a result of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and peripheral neuropathy.
  • After a big meal.

Cardiac syncope: this occurs due to an underlying heart problem. There may be a family history of sudden death. The faint may be preceded by chest pain or the sensation of having a ‘thumping heart’ and may happen during exercise.

Memory Loss From Drinking

An NIAAA study found that most cases of memory loss occurred because of binge drinking, or drinking large quantities of alcohol very quickly. This causes their blood alcohol levels to shoot up rapidly.

Binge drinking is recognized as the consumption of five or more standard drinks in any two-hour period, says the NIAAA. Binge drinking is prevalent among youngsters, mainly students, who are encouraged to drink large amounts of alcohol by their friends. Young people who are alcohol dependent may experience poor school performance due to the memory loss associated with binge drinking.

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Its Tricky Because People Can Blackout And Look Quite Sober

In the US, meanwhile, laws vary by state. Most say that someone who is mentally incapacitated cannot give consent. But New York, for example, says mental incapacitation can legally result only from involuntarily being given a drink or drug, not from having chosen to drink.

States that include voluntary drinking, on the other hand, usually include the caveat that the accused must reasonably have realised the person was incapacitated. But since people who have blacked out can seem highly functioning, the accused can argue that they didnt realise.

Its tricky because people can blackout and look quite sober, says White. You dont always have to severely intoxicated to blackout.

Sarah Hepola has ample experience of this kind of disconnect. She says that, during her blackouts, she could still function, take part in conversations and respond to jokes, in the same way that Goodwins subjects could perform calculations. Only those who knew her well could recognise her glassy-eyed unplugged look of being in a blackout state. It was like nobody was home like I was talking but wasnt receiving, she says.

But despite how she may have looked to outsiders, she knows she wasnt herself. I definitely think my decisions were impaired, Hepola says. I was highly impulsive, wildly unguarded and exhibitionistic, even sexually aggressive at times in ways that didnt make sense to me the next day based on what people told me.

Screening Questionnaires About Alcohol Use Now Routinely Ask About Prior Blackout Experiences

The Meaning Of Blackout Drinking: A Normal Experience or a ...

Its perhaps therefore not surprising that a person who regularly experiences blackouts is also more likely to experience other negative consequences of drinking, from the more mundane to the more serious . This makes blackouts a useful marker and predictor of other detrimental behaviour.

For these reasons, questions about alcoholic blackouts are now increasingly being used in screening tools to quickly get at whether someone is a recreational drinker or a problem drinker.

Blackout screening

Mary-Beth Miller, an addiction psychologist at the University of Missouri, found that a simple intervention technique could help blackout drinkers reduce their drinking, a finding she first showed in ex-army veterans and then extended to university drinkers.

The intervention is called personalised normative feedback. It is an online questionnaire that asks individuals about their drinking habits, and reports back how much they are drinking compared to others who are similar in age and background. Blackouts, her team found, serve as a teachable moment after which individuals are more likely to respond to intervention.

An online questionnaire that feeds back how a person’s drinking habits compares to others, could help reduce alcohol consumption

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Memory Loss Cause # 9 Brain Tumors

Lumps in the brain can occasionally trigger signs and symptoms similar to mental deterioration. The growth kills mind cells as it grows, resulting in amnesia. Relying on the location of the growth, the amount of memory loss will certainly vary in between individuals. Current research studies show that over fifty percent of all cancer cells individuals show signs and symptoms of memory loss that can be puzzled with mental deterioration- 90% of these symptoms were related to spoken memory and just how swiftly the research participants could raise memories as well as resolve problems. Research reveals that chemotherapy can straight cause cognitive disability, yet it is commonly recognized that memory loss and also cancer are both intricate problems that more probable have a number of reasons, instead of just one medicine.

Some symptoms of mind problems that indicate you require to go to a neurologist include:.

Sudden or severe vision troubles, like double and obscured vision.Seizures.Lightheadedness.Problem strolling as well as speaking.Abrupt dramatic adjustments in the senses, like scenting something that isnt there and hearing points .Unexplained throwing up.

How Can Stress Be The Cause

It is very common for people to think there must be a physical cause for psychogenic blackouts. They are physical symptoms after all. However, there are many examples of how emotional stress can cause physical reactions in the body. These include blushing when you are embarrassed, feeling butterflies in your stomach when you are nervous, and getting a headache when you have been worrying or have had a bad day. Another familiar idea is someone fainting when they are shocked.

When emotional stress is particularly severe or has been going on for a long time, more serious physical problems can arise. In some cases this leads to disability. There are many conditions where stress is thought to play a part, including chronic fatigue, postural tachycardia syndrome, non-cardiac chest pain, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. It may be that not all psychogenic blackouts/ non-epileptic attacks are caused by stress but further research is needed to answer this.

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What Happens When You Faint

When you faint, you become unconscious for a few seconds. It is also called passing out or blacking out. The medical term for this is syncope. You may feel sick and sweaty first or pass out with no warning at all.

When you pass out, you fall to the ground. It isn’t the same thing as a seizure which usually makes you jerk. You come around after a few seconds and feel back to normal. Some people feel very tired after they’ve come around. Usually, fainting happens for a reason, like when you’re in pain or have been standing for a long time in a hot place.

Fainting happens because the brain needs a constant supply of oxygen. If that supply falls below a certain level, we fall to the ground, which makes it easier for the more oxygen-rich blood to reach the brain.

Many Syncopal Attacks Only Require Reassurance From Your Gp

Dangers of a Blackout

Many syncopal attacks require only explanation and reassurance from a GP or trained nurse regarding the likely absence of anything being seriously wrong. Consultation with a specialist will be necessary, though, if the cause of the syncope remains uncertain or if there are particularly concerning symptoms or there is a family history of a heart condition.

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What Are Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, also known as Benzos, are a class of pharmaceutical drugs developed to treat symptoms of disorders and medical conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, or seizures. Like any other drug, Benzos will cause short- and long-term side effects but the risk for abuse and dependence is higher than most other medications. Even when prescribed for a short period of time, a person who is taking Benzodiazepines is at risk for abuse. If a person tries to stop suddenly, they may go through withdrawal symptoms. Many side effects may result from Benzodiazepine abuse, including memory loss, often referred to as blacking out.

What Is Blacking Out

What does it mean when someone says that they were so drunk the night before that they blacked out? Blacking out is a period of alcohol-induced amnesia during which an intoxicated person actively engages in behaviors like walking or talking but doesnt remember doing so. Blackouts are most commonly caused by a rapid increase in blood alcohol concentration levels, resulting in a temporary loss of memory. People normally experience a blackout when their BAC reaches around .14%, or .14 which is almost twice the legal limit. In addition to blacking out, an individual can also suffer from milder alcohol-induced memory impairments, called brownouts or grayouts.

Its important to note that blacking out is different than passing out, as the person is fully conscious when blacked out. In fact, anything a person can do when they are drunk, they can do while blacked out they just simply wont remember it the next day. However, during a blackout, a person will be able to remember events that happened before their BAC reached very high levels. This allows people that are blacked out to carry on conversations and recall stories from earlier in the evening while they were intoxicated.

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What Causes A Blackout

One common cause of a blackout is fainting. Fainting occurs when your heart rate drops and your blood vessels widen, resulting in low blood pressure. It can happen when you are very hot, distressed, in severe pain, you see or smell something unpleasant, or while you are coughing or going to the toilet. Sometimes, you might black out when you stand up too quickly. This is because your blood pressure suddenly drops.

Blacking out can also be caused by a serious health condition, including:

What Causes Alcohol Blackout

Blackouts When Drinking

What causes someone to blackout from alcohol specifically lies in the brains inability to function normally and efficiently while someone is under the influence. When you are sober, you form memories by receiving sensory input, processing it, and storing it in your short-term memory. Next, the experience is transferred into long-term memory in the hippocampus by a process known as encoding so that people can recall these memories later.

When you drink too much alcohol, the brain is not as efficient, and all of these memory processes become impaired. Specifically, heavy drinking is believed to interfere the most with the encoding stage.1

As a result, when someones blood alcohol level reaches a certain amount, they lose their ability to form and retrieve new memories. For most people, an alcohol blackout starts at around a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.14, but the onset of an alcohol blackout varies from person to person.

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Concussions And Head Injuries

Concussions and traumatic head injuries can cause short-term memory impairment, but some research has found that they can also increase the likelihood for the development of dementia over the years.

Be sure to take steps like wearing protective headgear and helmets when playing sports. And, if you do sustain a concussion, it’s important to let your head fully heal before returning to regular activities and participating in sports. Discuss any headaches and concentration difficulties after a head injury with your doctor.

Symptoms Of Memory Blackouts

There are no known symptoms of blackouts, except that the person experiencing them will be showing the same symptoms of overdrinking. Slurred speech, impaired judgment, and impaired coordination may all be a warning sign that someone is experiencing a memory blackout. Many that drink may think that experiencing blackouts are a laughing matter, but, they are not. Studies show that drinking enough to raise the blood alcohol content level high enough to induce memory blackouts can lead to both short and long-term physical, mental, and emotional consequences. Most terrifying, those that experience frequent memory lapses as a result of abusing alcohol may even experience brain shrinkage.

Additionally, those that experience memory blackouts commonly from excessive drinking are more likely to participate in behaviors that could lead to other consequences. Drunk driving, unprotected sexual activity, crime, and violence are to be expected of those that have a blood alcohol content level high enough to induce memory lapse. Also, those that commonly experience memory blackouts from alcohol are at a higher risk of using other drugs and developing other addictions.

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Its Like A Temporary Gap In The Tape

That chunks of memory are completely lost during a blackout goes some way into revealing what is going on in the brain. Its believed that the hippocampus is momentarily impaired this is the structure of the brain important for weaving together incoming information to create our memories of everyday events. People with severe damage to this area cannot create new memories.

Alcohol therefore shuts off brain circuits central to making episodic memories , explains White, who has studied the process on a cellular level with rodent brains.

We think a big part of whats happening is that alcohol is suppressing the hippocampus, and its unable to create this running record of events, he says. Its like a temporary gap in the tape.

In rats, White showed that there are doses of alcohol where brain cells still kind of work, and higher doses where they are completely off which explains partial blackouts where only fragments are lost. At the same time, two other important brain areas that feed the hippocampus information about whats happening in the world are also suppressed when we drink alcohol, explains White. These are the frontal lobe, the reasoning area of the brain that we use when were paying attention to something, and the amygdala, the area that warns us about danger.

Risk factors

Blackouts are more common among college students and women

What Can You Do If You Feel Like You’re Going To Faint

Why Do We Get Blackout Drunk?
  • Lie down flat with your legs up on a chair or against a wall or sit down on the ground with your head between your knees. Do not just sit on a chair.
  • Squatting down on your heels can be very effective and is less noticeable in public.
  • When feeling better, get up carefully. If symptoms return, resume the position.

If you faint again:

  • Discuss with your doctor stopping any medication that may be responsible.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Drink more fluids such as water or soft drinks.
  • Wear support stockings.
  • Do leg crossing and arm tensing exercises.

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What Investigations Might Be Advised

The doctor will want to know more about what you were doing when you blacked out.

  • You will be asked whether you’ve recently started new medication.
  • Try to remember whether you had any warning before you blacked out.
  • Did anyone see you fall? .
  • How did you feel when you came around?

These details will help the doctor to make a diagnosis. Your doctor will examine you. They will check your heart, including your blood pressure when sitting and standing and your pulse. You may be asked to have a heart tracing . You may have blood tests for anaemia and diabetes. Further tests of your heart and nervous system may be necessary.

Dangers Of Blacking Out From Benzodiazepines

Recreational use of Benzodiazepines can produce similar effects to alcohol intoxication. Just as binge drinking can lead to blacking out, large doses of Benzos may cause the same effect. People who take Benzodiazepines and drink alcohol may experience episodic memory loss. Most users are not aware of their blackouts until someone else brings it to their attention. The state of disinhibition and memory loss usually leads to the user feeling shame and anxiety. A study on memory and Benzodiazepines found that, when hearing about their blackouts, users perceived their own behavior as inexplicable and inconsistent with their self-conception or normal behavior. Abusing Benzodiazepines can lead to addiction and the user may experience frequent blackouts, which have been described as unpleasant, unpredictable, and embarrassing.

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Preventing An Alcohol Blackout

The easiest way to avoid blacking out is to limit how much you drink. If youre committed to drinking heavily or for long periods of time, then pacing yourself throughout the day or night will prevent your blood alcohol from rising too quickly.

To prevent blackouts you should:

  • Drink slowly
  • Avoid shots or drinking games
  • Eat food before drinking
  • Eat more food if youre drinking for a long time
  • Stay hydrated with water
  • Ask a sober friend to cut you off after a certain number of drinks

A good rule of thumb is to only consume one drink per hour and to have a glass of water for every drink you consume.

Be aware of blackout warning signs. If youre having difficulty concentrating, remembering recent events or keeping track of a conversation, you may be close to getting blackout drunk. If youre in that situation, find someone you trust and find a safe ride home.

If youre worried about how much a friend has had to drink, ask him about something that occurred 10 to 15 minutes ago. If he cant remember, he might be blacked out. The best option is get the friend home safely. If you see warning signs for alcohol poisoning or overdose such as vomiting, difficulty breathing, or cold or blue skin then get emergency medical help immediately.

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