For some people, TGA may occur as a result of certain triggers or events, including:
- Physical exertion
- Emotional or psychological stress
- Sudden immersion in cold or hot water
- Head trauma
- Sexual intercourse
- Performing the Valsalva maneuver. This is a breathing technique purposely performed by a person as part of a medical test or to slow a rapid heart rate and other uses. It is performed by closing your mouth and pinching your nose and bearing down as if having a bowel movement.
What are the symptoms of transient global amnesia (TGA)?
Transient global amnesia (TGA) involves a sudden inability to form new memories. Some people also can’t recall memories from hours, days, or longer in the past. People experiencing a TGA episode may appear disoriented and confused. They know who they are and know their family members.
A classic symptom is constantly repeating the same questions over and over. Ironically enough, other complex mental tasks, such as the ability to drive a car or cook, are not affected. The average age of the first TGA experience is 50 but neurologists have been reporting a number of younger patients in recent years.
Other symptoms that can occur with TGA include:
- Tingling in the feet, legs, hands, or arms
In most cases, TGA episodes last 1 to 10 hours (6 hours is average). In rare cases, symptoms may persist for up to 24 hours.
Memory problems that develop gradually or last for more than a day are not part of TGA and are likely related to other causes.
The Good News
As terrifying as it is to experience a TGA episode, it is a relief for many to find that is not a harbinger of stroke, dementia, or future mental issues and is very unlikely to reoccur. Most cases persist for 6-12 hours and it generally resolves itself within 24 hours. 15% of individuals who have had it may experience a second occurrence. Naturally, it is a very frightening experience that some may require help coping with afterward.
It is becoming so prevalent, however, there are even several private TGI support group pages on Facebook.
Although awareness of Transient Global Amnesia will not prevent you from getting it, it does give you insight into what may be going on with a relative or loved one who suddenly seems confused and forgetful. Unfortunately, TGA can sometimes be confused with being inebriated or high on drugs. The more people understand this strange little malady, the better for everyone.