Neurology Community
45k Members
1299318 tn?1377812519

Acute memory loss following strenuous exercise


I've had two episodes of severe temporary memory loss after resistance (weight lifting) exercise.  Temporary memory loss included not being able to immediately remember or remember at all, the combination to my lock, computer passwords, my own address & phone number, names, the current date etc.  The first time I went to emergency and all of thes tests (CTScan bloodwork etc) were all fine.  The hospital neurlogist suggested dehydration or low blood sugar.  Since that first time, I have tried to improve my health further with a healthier diet, staying hydrated, and taking vitamins.  So I was really scared when it happened again yesterday, 4 months after the first episode.  I couldn't remember the names of the streets in my neighborhood, or my kids middle names etc.  Very scary.  My memory returned a couple of hours later.  My family doctor is sending me to a cardilogist, but I don't know if this is what is wrong.  I'm a 40 year old male, 5'8" and 160 pounds with relatively low body fat.  What should I be checking for?  Anyone's assistance is very much appreciated.  Thank you.
21 Responses
Avatar universal
I have had two similar occurrences while kayaking, the last one only days ago.  Initially we we thought it may have been hypoglycaemia because I am Type 2 diabetic.

I now think it may be "transient global amnesia".  Google it and see what you think.
1093617 tn?1279305602
Hi, Thank you very much for your question; although it is quite difficult for me to give you a precise diagnosis here without being able to examine you, though I would try to provide you some relevant information about your health concern. You need a proper assessment and investigation here since there can be many causes for memory loss & concentration impairment. Most common causes of short term memory and concentration impairment are excessive stress, psychological reason, recent head injury, certain medications, hormonal imbalance and Alzheimer’s disease (if you are in old age). I would recommend you to see a neurologist who can evaluate the details of your case and could better determine the insight of your situation. In the meantime, try to do some meditation exercises (eg. breathing exercises), have a balanced diet and avoid stress. Hope this helps. Take Care & Regards.
Avatar universal
Hi, I had similar situation like yours after workout recently.  Just wonder if you went to see a neurologist and have some update.  Thanks.
Avatar universal
Fascinating.  After my weight lifitng routine today i could not remeber my combination, street name, address, office tel number, home phone number.  Everything but the combination number to my lock came to me within 15 minutes but it was unerving.

Will watchg this site for other commetnts.
My memory is always affected after weight training to some degree--possible migraine type response-(no headache) or lactic acid or whatever...
Avatar universal
I had the same thing happen to me after a strenuous workout but the onset was 8 hours afterwards. I couldn't remember my name, my kid's name. I called out for my girlfriend but what came out wa not her name. All I could say was I can't remember. After about 39 mins I started getting my memory back.
Do you have an update of what happened to you.
1299318 tn?1377812519

Since my original post, I have had a total of five episodes where I have [described] memory loss lasting for approximately each time.  I'm completely self aware and recall everything during the episodes.  All but one episode followed a strenuous work out of lifting.  The other episode was triggered after I missed breakfast and was on a hot school bus with my oldest child on a field trip.

I also have long [chronic] migraine like episodes without pain, and benign positional vertigo.  I've seen several ENT specialists and neurologists.  My current neurologist said I suffer from Basilar Type Migraines, but I'm not so convinced because I don't have much aura type symptoms.

I do sometimes suffer from anxiety, which I believe is brought on by stress.  I run about 25K each week and try to exercise every day, take B2, B50 and Magnesium daily.  

I can handle the episodic amnesia, but the ongoing migraines and vertigo are making me lose hope.

I have upcoming appointments with the ENT and neurologist.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you
1299318 tn?1377812519

TGA was ruled out for me because I can recall everything that happened during the episodes.  

Have you had anymore memory loss episodes?

Thank you.
1299318 tn?1377812519
To JoeyJoanne,

This sounds exactly like my first episode.  How have you been since?

All the best!
Avatar universal
I had almost the same experience just two weeks ago.  After walking for about 30 minutes, I became tired and a little shaky, almost lightheaded.  I drove back to my daughter's house - knew where I was, who I was, etc, but I could not remember my grandkids names - and my son's name confused me - it is Dylan - and I remember thinking, "I wouldn't name my son after a musician, would I?" So, off the the ER we went and I knew exactly where I was going, how to get there. Memories came back within about 30 min. - slowly names floated in. BP was high and all tests but potassium were normal.  A headache came on when memory returned and stayed for about a week along with a feeling of being off balance.  One doctor said TIA, one migraine, one hypoglycemia, and another hypertension induced.  I had a similar episode about 5 nights after and couldn't remember the names of famous movie stars.  What could this be?
Avatar universal
Hypertension induced?  MRI - all tests normal except for low potassium.
Avatar universal
Were you evaluated for a TIA or any other condition?  This sounds very much like what I just experienced.
Avatar universal
I had a very similar incident.  Did you get a diagnosis?
Avatar universal

have had exactly the same. I am 44, 6'1' and 150 pounds and fit. Had a long stressful day at work, went to the gym and did weights and some cardio. That's it. Can't remember a thing. Not how in drove home, parked my car, talked confused, get in the ambulance. I have one moment when did a CT scan that I ''woke'' up for a minute. They thought stroke, tumor etc. Good news is it's all fine. Everything is perfect. Neurologist diagnosed transient global amnesia. I surely believe it's related to the workout at the gym and dehydration.  As I had also cramps at some later stages I have started to take magnesium, calcium and vitamins. I haven't had it since. I also make sure to have energy before I go and have something to eat. I also have a very low resting heart rate of ~40 that might play a role. To loose your memory is a scary thing.
Happened to me 8 miles into a bike ride after several large hills.  I got off the bike and layed it on the grass and stood there till other riders came by a few seconds later.  They told me I was saying " I can't remember how old I am."  A minute or two later things came back into focus.  I don't remember stopping or putting by bike down.  My wife brought me to the ER and everything was fine:  MRI, EEG, heart, nothing.  They called it transient global amnesia.  
Avatar universal

Thank you so much for posting this. I have been suffering from this for a few years, irregular and always several hours following exertion. It can even occur the day after, for example.

I did the stupid thing of trying to self-diagnose as doctors were stumped. It came up with TGA, as suggested above. I'd had OHS and assumed it was linked, but cardiologists say everything is working great. I'm 28 and terrified of losing my mind, so (albeit in a twisted way) I'm glad others are experiencing the same thing.

I hope someone gets the answer and posts it here. I will check back and let you all know if I ever find out what's causing this.

Again, thanks
Avatar universal
I am a 52 year old female that had just started working out for a few weeks, when halfway thru a fairly intense workout, I completely blacked out for 1 hour of time.  One minute I was doing pushups and then an hour later I was in my office drinking a protein shake my coworkers made for me to try to clear the confusion.  I could follow simple directions apparently but kept asking the same questions over and over.  I have blips of memory driving the hour home. But then lost another hour completely after I got there.  I finally snapped out of the "blackness" and drove myself to urgent care.  Been going thru all the neurological and cardio tests, which are all turning out fine.
Avatar universal
sounds extremely familiar - i have recurring episodes of this.  all during anoeribic upper body weight lifting.  I'm a runner with an extremely low resting heart rate and in great areobic shape.  i like the cross training but unless i can figure out the root cause i'm going to avoid the weights.   i''m 55 , 155 lbs, resting hr of 50.  8 min miles for training pace.  all ekg/cat scan normal.  please let me know if you've learned anything
Avatar universal
I am 70 and had my first memory loss episode after lifting weights approx 15 years ago.  I was hospitalized over night and came to my senses approx 8 hours from the initial event, but those eight hours were a blank.  Since then I have had two other incidents to a lesser degree.  When exercising or exerting my shoulder and neck mussels is when I feel most susceptible. I feel them coming on and stop. I get light headed and have difficulty thinking clearly during these times
15987743 tn?1444481714
It is my hope that my opinion is not entirely out of date. I see that most of this blog goes back quite a bit, in time. Here is my conjecture (please read it as an opinion, please; and look up your own facts):

1. Exercise has been shown, recently, to contribute to an increase in Leptin. Leptin regulates the endocannabinoid system. In individuals that are not compromised in being able to use leptin, properly, anxiety and pain diminishes. And for those that haven't read the latest news, this is not about endorphins.

2. Medical Cannabis has been shown to be effective in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have read that cannabis affects immediate memory formations; and this probably is how anxiety is removed/reduced/mitigated in PTSD.

3. Items one, and two above are probably due to two completely different molecules, perhaps one is CBD, and the other is THC. That doesn't mean that there are aren't cross-over molecules. That is, chemistry that can exhibit the affect in both cases. And it doesn't meant that either is caused by CBD or THC, solely. I simply do not know.

4. If you are exercising extremely (and I do not have a methodology to describe the velocity of exercise other than maybe suggesting that 25K might be "extreme"...(I apologize if I offend runners, here) or if you are pulling heavy weight, with high velocity and few repetitions, or pulling "lighter" (relatively) weight with higher repetitions, then my hypothesis is that your leptin output is not being down-regulated. Think of it as being a "sticky" molecule that doesn't go away too quickly.

Your leptin is bound to the endocannabinoid system receptors; and you are unable to form new memories - or temporarily regain access to memories that you took for granted. Eventually, the leptin becomes unbound. And you regain your memories.
Avatar universal
Does anyone ever provide answers here?  I have the same problem as described above.  I'm 63.  Over the last ten years or so I have had over a dozen such episodes, usually beginning during a strength training workout in which I work to failure - working very hard to get one more rep.  I get fuzzy headed, loose track of thoughts, and wonder if a thought was about something that actually happened or about something I dreamed - as I totally loose the thought.  At some point during the episode, maybe 30 to 60 minutes into it I feel like my mind is totally going - then that passes and I am left dull and struggling to remember how to do simple things like use the remote.  This lasts for several hours.  The next day I am near normal, but less than 100% for a few days.  These are always scary and make me wary of exertion.
I have just had the same episode as Veritasx, in the gym shower after my workout (which was short weight lifting but intense), then in the shower started to confuse dreams with reality, could not easily remember my locker code, again, dull and heavy for the day, less than 100% for a few days.. went to hospital, they ran blood/pressure/heart/cat scan on head, all negative. it scared me quite a bit!. I am fit, 49, 5.9 and 160.
Yes!  This is me!  what is happening!thank you for sharing!
This is pretty much me as well. I am 67 and retired Navy. I like to run and I also lift weights to stay in shape. I work out pretty hard and push myself constantly. I have had these episodes for maybe five or six years, but, until recently, had never given them a lot of thought. Some of the earliest I can remember, maybe 6 years ago, were so strange. I can't even remember whether or not they were associated with any form of workout. What I do remember is this: I felt like I was in some sort of a dream state. I had these random thoughts that I couldn't really put my finger on. Like you said, Veritas, were they about something that really happened or were they dreams or what? I told my wife that I thought it was caused by using Aleve, but that was just my guess and that was also wrong. More recently, the episodes have come as a result of running, sometimes combined with weight training, sometimes not. One time, in July of 2017, after running maybe 2 miles, I couldn't remember what year it was. I remembered all of my actions. I never lost my ability to know where I was or who I was with. I just had a state of mild confusion. More recently, just a month or so ago, I was training on a routine where I would run to the gym, about 1.5 miles, work out for an hour, and run back. As I mentioned, my weight training workouts are pretty strenuous. Half way through the workout, all of a sudden, once again, I couldn't remember what year (2018) it was. I also couldn't remember names of most of the others working out in the gym. Other than a very mild feeling of confusion or disorientation, I felt pretty normal and I sort of faked it with the others, those whose names were just not there. After a while, what the heck. I just finished my workout and ran home. The memory loss stayed until I woke up the next morning at which time I was fine. To see if this was really caused by my run-workout-run program, I did it again the next week and sure enough, the same thing occurred. I ran home then as well and the symptoms were gone the next morning. I now have a test I give myself to see if I am experiencing these symptoms, What year is it? 2018. Good. What are the names of a few workout buddies: Glenn, Sheila, Pauline, Cody, Nick. Good. I haven't run to the gym since the second episode ..... no sense pushing this. Instead, I work out on an elliptical machine for 15 minutes prior to hitting the weights and have been fine each time. I give myself my "test" several times during the workout to see if I am still all there. No problems. I have an appointment with my doctor this Friday and I am going to mention it to her. I really don't want to go through a bunch of tests, but if I must, then I will. I will post on this site if anything definite is discovered. Other than this, my memory is actually very sharp. I can usually remember names and faces easily and I have an active business and family life with many moving parts. This is one weird disorder.
In addition to these episodes being very scary, I have developed a concern that there may be some mild, though permanent, brain damaged with each episode, as I don't feel 100% for at least several days following.  I have reluctantly ceased strength training.  I still don't know the exact cause but suspect that the episodes are due to lack of oxygen in the brain.  Perhaps something, like BP, or the neck muscles getting "pumped", is interfering with proper circulation, leaving the brain starved for oxygen - and we all know that if deprivation is sufficiently severe and prolonged it can result in cell death.  One known condition that can cause congestion of blood supply to the brain is known as Jugular Vein Valve Insufficiency - so perhaps, in our situations, something is constricting circulation, causing oxygen-depleted blood to congest in the brain.   VeritasX
I sure would like to get back to the weight room.  Sooner or later someone on this thread is going to find out what this is - when you do, please remember to come back online and tell the rest of us.  :-)
Avatar universal
it looks like it is harmelss
I have considered Transient Global Amnesia several times but, carefully reading the descriptions, there are just too many key symptoms  that do not match mine.  I suspect my episodes are due to hypoxia but do not know what causes it or how to prevent it.
Avatar universal
When i start a workout, i can feel a fog building in my head, then comes a headache, then temporary memory loss.

My only “remedy” is to have a shot of an alcoholic drink prior to workout, somehow it works! Alcohol actually lowers my bp. I don’t know if it’s that, or if it numbs the nervous system to allow better blood flow. Hopefully they’ll find a better solution, although it’s not the priority in this world.

Still scared to workout but i miss the pump. Once i feel the fog, i stop.  Good luck to y’all.
Have an Answer?
Top Neurology Answerers
620923 tn?1452919248
Allentown, PA
5265383 tn?1483811956
1756321 tn?1547098925
Queensland, Australia
1780921 tn?1499305393
Queen Creek, AZ
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease