What causes blackouts? Symptoms, treatment, prevention, and more

If you’re noticing brain sluggishness or that it’s more difficult to remember things, mention this to your doctor. It may be appropriate to test your thyroid functioning, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms of thyroid issues. Treating thyroid problems could improve your memory and concentration.

what causes blackouts and memory loss

You may act normally and do things like socialize, eat, drive, and drink. But your brain is impaired and does not record your memories during this time. You may have a simple fainting spell due to anxiety, fear, pain, intense emotional stress, hunger, or use of alcohol or drugs. Most people who have a simple fainting spell have no underlying heart or neurological (nerve or brain) problem. A blackout ends when your body finally absorbs the alcohol and your brain can make memories again.

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Some causes are treatable, and there are steps you can take now to help yourself should you or a loved one experience it in the future. If a blackout is caused by alcohol or drug use, you may experience memory loss. The severity and duration of the symptoms sometimes described as chemo brain differ from person to person.

If you think you’ve been injured, sexually or physically assaulted, it’s important that you get medical attention immediately and talk to the police about everything you can remember. Alcohol is dehydrating by nature, so making sure you’re drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is important. Being aware of potential signs of intoxication can also be helpful in understanding your limitations. When you pass out or faint, you experience a temporary loss of consciousness.

Symptom checker

Still, several studies link heavy alcohol use to learning and memory problems. It’s unclear whether blacking out causes serious long-term damage, but heavy alcohol use and risky behaviors while blacked out can have serious long-term health effects. A blackout is a loss of the ability to make memories, but people are still conscious when they’re blackout drunk. They can still walk and talk, although they may do so drunkenly. The underlying cause of transient global amnesia is unknown.

Although many people recover from blackouts, one episode can be fatal. THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, may also increase blackouts when combined with alcohol. The reward pathway in the brain regulates these activities. Although this part of the brain can build up long-term tolerance to alcohol, this isn’t true of the hippocampus.

Fainting – Better Health Channel

Autonomic nervous system problems include acute or subacute dysautonomia, chronic post-ganglionic autonomic insufficiency, and chronic pre-ganglionic autonomic insufficiency. If you have a complete blackout, memory loss is permanent. Even with cues, you’re unlikely to can ptsd cause blackouts remember what happened during this time. With treatment, most people will be able to continue their daily activities. If a person’s blackouts are related to an underlying medical condition, they should stop once the person receives treatment to manage the condition.

  • The latter study found that women experienced the side effects after drinking only half as much as men.
  • But there’s no easy way to tell the difference between transient global amnesia and the life-threatening illnesses that can also cause sudden memory loss.
  • If you know you have a brain-related condition that can cause amnesia, ask your healthcare provider when you should get medical care related to amnesia.
  • Binge drinking — consuming numerous drinks in a short period— is more likely to cause alcohol blackouts, amnesia and memory loss than slow, heavy drinking, according to numerous studies.
  • There may be a link between transient global amnesia and a history of migraines.

A heart that beats irregularly, too fast or too slow, is experiencing an arrhythmia. If you blackout, you may also be at risk of injury from falling over. There are things you can do if you feel like you are going to blackout.