This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


Understanding Transient Global Amnesia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is Transient Global Amnesia?

Transient global amnesia can be a distressing condition, but it is not a fatal one nor is it an indication of something dangerous. Treatment is not required; however, there are some triggers that can be prevented. This condition is a temporary loss of some memory and the episodes can occur suddenly and often last for some hours before subsiding on their own (1).

Individuals experiencing an episode of transient global amnesia can remember who they are and also are able to identify their family and friends. However, there is absence of memories of the present situation and recent events and they are not able to form new memories.

There is no denying that such a situation can be frightening; however, it is not life threatening. Transient global amnesia is also not a sign of a seizure or stroke nor does it have any long lasting health effects. Therefore, treatment is not required for this condition.

Transient global amnesia is a temporary and sudden episode of confusion. This condition is more often seen in people aged 50 and above (1, 2). This condition affects a person who is normally alert and the cause of it is not another condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.

Individuals experiencing transient global amnesia are unable to form new memories. Also, they cannot remember what’s happening, where they are or how they got there. They tend to repeat the same questions or are unable to answer the questions regarding events that have occurred in the recent months. However, there are some individuals who experience transient global amnesia and yet do identify who they are and are also able to indentify family members and close friends.

Recovering from an episode of transient global amnesia can take some hours where the patient typically starts remembering events.

What are the Causes of Transient Global Amnesia?

The exact cause of this condition is not clear. According to research, there might be a connection between a history of migraine and transient global amnesia; however, factors which cause these conditions are not clearly explainable (3).

Blockages in the veins are also thought to be associated with transient global amnesia; however, there is no proof of this. Some of the potential causes or triggers of transient global amnesia are (1):

  • Rigorous physical activity.
  • Mild injury to head.
  • Acute stress.
  • Sudden immersion in extremely cold or hot water.
  • Medical procedures or testing.
  • Sexual activity.

What are the Symptoms of Transient Global Amnesia?

Not being able to remember your recent past or unable to create new memories is the primary symptom of transient global amnesia. Some of the other symptoms of this condition are:

  • Memory loss that can last for no more than 34 hours (often less).
  • Onset of memory loss and confusion, which comes on suddenly.
  • Patient continues to repeat the same questions.
  • Despite the memory loss, the patient knows who they are.
  • The patient is alert and awake throughout the episode.
  • Patient is able to identify familiar places, people and objects.
  • There is no sign of brain damage.
  • The patient has normal thinking ability.
  • There is gradual return of the patient’s memory.
  • The patient does not have epilepsy or seizure activity.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Transient Global Amnesia?

There are no known direct long-term effects or complications of transient global amnesia. Moreover, this condition is not thought to be a risk factor for other conditions, such as stroke and epilepsy. There is likelihood for someone who has already had a single episode of transient global amnesia to also have second episode, however, it is rare to have more than two episodes.

There is no denying that experiencing an episode of transient global amnesia can be upsetting, frightening and very stressful, as the patient goes hours without their memory function.

What is the Treatment for Transient Global Amnesia?

Treatment is not needed for transient global amnesia, as this condition resolves on its own without any long-term complications or effects. If the patient is suffering from anxiety thinking about having any future episodes of this condition, then it is recommended to seek medical consultation and counseling.

What is the Difference between a Transient Ischemic Attack and Transient Global Amnesia?

Transient global amnesia and a TIA are completely different conditions. Transient global amnesia, despite it being frightening, is not a serious medical condition and subsides on its own without any lasting effects. On the other hand, transient ischemic attack is a serious medical condition, which needs urgent medical attention and treatment for this consists of medication and surgery.

Other than this, the symptoms of transient global amnesia are confined to only memory, whereas the symptoms of a TIA consist of vision problems, weakness on one side of the body and slurring of speech.

Can a Person Drive With Transient Global Amnesia?

Yes, a person suffering from transient global amnesia can drive provided they are not driving while having an episode. The episodes of this condition last for some hours and go away on its own without needing treatment. Patients having this episode are able to remember who they are and their family and friends and are also able to drive, follow directions, cook and do other activities of living.


Transient global amnesia is not a fatal or serious condition, as it subsides after a few hours and is a temporary condition which starts abruptly with memory loss. This condition is not a sign of any other serious medical condition nor is it a risk factor for other more serious conditions.

Individuals suffering from transient global amnesia are able to identify themselves and others; however, they are not able to remember any details of their recent past or what is happening at the moment and they are also not able to form any new memories. Also, they can perform all the tasks and easily understand and follow directions.

There is no treatment needed for this condition, as these episodes subside gradually within a few hours. However, it is important to be prepared for any episodes in the future and it is better for the patient to wear a medical bracelet regarding this condition.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 29, 2024

Recent Posts

Related Posts