You may be wondering why someone can remember an event from 10 years ago but not remember an event from 10 minutes ago. This is because there are two main types of memory loss–short term memory loss and long-term memory loss. Here, we will be focusing on the short term memory loss causes and short term memory loss symptoms.

Memory loss is a condition that affects most adults in some capacity or another as a part of the normal aging process. Memory loss becomes a concern when it impairs daily functioning or when it is caused by a disorder or disease.

Short Term Memory Malfunction

The short term memory storage can only hold a very small amount of information for a small amount of time. When these short term memories are deemed important, our brain goes through a process to transfer them to our long term memory. In short term memory loss, there is a malfunction. The brain either can’t hold on to the short term memories or the short term memories can’t be transferred to the long term memory storage area and gets booted by new incoming information.

Short Term Memory Loss Symptoms

Short term memory loss usually starts off slow, unless it is due to an injury. Since it starts off slow, there may be symptoms in the beginning that is indicative of the condition. Some of these symptoms can include being confused often, not being able to remember things that should easily be remembered, or even trouble speaking logically.

Short Term Memory Loss Causes

There are a lot of short term memory loss causes. These reasons can generally be separated into three main categories. They are Outside Factors, Diseases/Disorders, and Injuries.

Outside Factors

Outside factors are causes that happen outside of the body but don’t fall under the injury category. Medications, drugs, and alcohol fall in this category. Drugs and alcohol have been proven to have drastic negative effects on all areas of mental functioning including memory. As for medication, there are some that can affect a person’s memory with continued use. Here are a few that affect short term memory:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Antihistamines


Diseases/disorders are a big contributor to short term memory loss causes. Some of these diseases or disorders can directly cause it while others can be more of a secondary cause. Alzheimer’s is one of the more well-known diseases that causes memory loss. It is irreversible and slowly destroys memory and other cognitive functions over time. The effects can become so severe that people have a hard time performing basic daily functions. The disease causes abnormal lumps to grow in the brain called amyloid plaques and tangled masses of fibers called neurofibrillary grow in the brain also. The damage starts in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory. This is why the first signs of the disease is short-term memory loss.

Other short term memory loss causes in the diseases/disorders category include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Poor nutrition
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Stroke
  • STDs


Head injuries can cause memory loss. Certain types of injuries could cause short term memory loss and others could cause long term memory loss. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), for example, is known to mostly cause short term memory loss. This injury can cause people to forget the circumstances surrounding their injury and they may also forget smaller future details such as appointments or phone calls.

short term memory loss

Concussions can also cause short term memory loss. In a recent study conducted by researcher Mark R. Lovell, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, high school athletes suffered from short term memory and cognitive impairment for up to a week after getting a concussion. Other studies have also shown that people will continue to suffer memory problems and cognitive impairments in the future after having a concussion.


Memory loss is a common condition that affects many people all over the world. Most of the time it is normal, age related forgetfulness but there is a large number of cases of memory loss due to medical reasons or injuries. Memory loss could be short term which can seriously debilitate a person’s way of life.

Unfortunately there is no cure for memory loss and the condition can’t be reversed. If the short term memory loss isn’t caused by a progressive disease or disorder, then there is a possibility that it may not get worse. The memory loss could be managed with effort, even if the person requires help from family, friends, or medical professionals.