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Transient Global Amnesia

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Biology 202
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

Transient Global Amnesia

Miranda White

A little while ago, my father and grandfather were driving in our car together. All of a sudden, my grandfather said that he was feeling dizzy and thought the beginnings of a migraine were coming on. My grandfather is extremely healthy and has an amazing memory, so my father was shocked when not long after, when grandfather asked where Ruthy, his recently deceased wife, was. When my father reminded him that she had died of cancer last year, my grandfather broke into tears, as if he was being told for the first time. In addition, he couldn't even remember what he had just eaten for dinner or any other events of the day. My father drove him straight to the emergency room, worried that he had perhaps just suffered a minor stoke. By the time that he got to the hospital, he was already beginning to regain some of the memories that had been lost. The doctors reassured him that it was not a stroke, but rather a memory disorder called transient global amnesia.

Transient global amnesia (TGA) is a type of amnesia involving the sudden, temporary disturbance in an otherwise healthy person's memory. The other main kinds of amnesia are called anterograde and retrograde amnesia. Anterograde amnesia is a type of memory loss associated with a trauma, disease, or emotional events. It is characterized by the inability to remember new information. (1) Retrograde amnesia is associated with the loss of distant memories usually preceding a given trauma. (2) In transient global amnesia, generally both distant memories and immediate recall are retained, as are language function, attention, visual-spatial and social skills. However, during the period of amnesia, people suffering from the disorder cannot remember recent occurrences nor can they retain any new visual or verbal information for more than a couple minutes. (3) Though patients generally remember their own identities, they are often very confused by their surroundings and the people around them. They continuously ask questions about events that are transpiring, for example where they are, who is with them, what is happening. However, once they are told, they immediate forget the answer, and repeat the question again. (4)

The period of amnesia can last anywhere from one to twenty-four hours. Some people suffer from a headache, dizziness, and nausea while others have only memory loss. TGA generally affects fifty to eighty-year-old men, about 3.4 to 5.2 people per 100,000 per year. (5) People afflicted with transient global amnesia always recover and can remember the memories that were lost during the episode. (6) Once they regain their memory, some people, such as my grandfather, can recall both the episode and the feeling of not being able to remember. However, others never recover the memories of the attack nor the events immediately before.
The cause of TGA remains in dispute. There is convincing evidence that external emotional stresses, such as sexual intercourse, immersion in cold water, or strenuous physical exertion, can trigger the associated loss of memory. (7) For example, my grandfather suffered from TGA directly after taking his sister to the hospital. TGA may be the result of a transient ischemic attack, a "mini-stroke." Transient ischemic attacks are caused by a temporary interruption of the blood flow to the brain. (8) Another possible cause of transient global amnesia is a basilar artery migraine, a type of migraine caused by the abnormal constriction and dilatation of vessel walls. (9)

Patients suffering from transient global amnesia have undergone medical imaging techniques, for example magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission topography (PT), in order to find out what biological changes cause a temporary lapse in memory. The symptoms of transient global amnesia seem to be the result of dysfunction in such regions of the brain as the diencephalon and medial temporal lobes. (4) The diencephalon is composed of the thalamus, epithalamus, subthalamus, and hypothalamus. The thalamus is associated with memory, and changes in its structure have been proven to result in amnesia. (10) Some MRIs have shown evidence of changes in the medial temporal lobes, indicating that patients had suffered from a transient ischemic attack. Nonetheless, many people that have undergone such tests have not shown any changes in the functioning of their brains. (4)

These findings are in line with our neurobiological understanding of memory. Under normal functioning, there are three kinds of memory: working memory, declarative memory, and procedural memory. Working memory allows for short-term recollection, for example, it is responsible for your being able to remember the gist of the sentence you just read. It is associated with the temporary storage of verbal and visual information. The verbal working memory is localized to the frontal regions of the left hemisphere, while spatial working memory involves mainly the right hemispheres. Procedural memory is responsible for cognitive and motor skills, all learned, habitual actions, for example, my ability to type this paper without looking at the keyboard or my ability to ride a bicycle. (12) The anatomical basis for procedural memory appears to be the basil ganglia, thalamus, and the frontal lobes. Declarative memory, associated with the hippocampus, is all experiences and conscious memory, including people, events, objects, facts, figures, and names. The region of the brain termed the medial frontal lobe is particularly responsible for declarative memory function.

There is much evidence proving that damage to the medial frontal lobe, severely affects a person's ability to recall and form long-term memories. The most well-known clinical example involves a patient called H.M. H.M. was afflicted with epilepsy. Surgeons removed both of his medial temporal lobes in an attempt to cure him from his disease. However, in so doing, they profoundly damaged his memory. He could no longer form new memories, though all his memories from before the surgery were retained - in other words he had anterograde amnesia. (11) Therefore, it appears that the lack of functioning and blood supply of the medial temporal lobe produces the symptoms of transient global amnesia, and results in the inability to make and recall autobiographical memories.

Transient global amnesia fortunately has a very positive prognosis - its effects are never permanent and the episodes last for a relatively short period of time. However, the inability to remember can be extraordinarily frightening. It is a natural experiment because it shows fairly clearly that certain parts of the brain are involved with certain kinds of memory. We often see ourselves as unitary beings, but in fact we are made up of many different processes that make up who we are. Although much of the neurobiology associated with memory remains quite mysterious, transient global amnesia helps highlight the particular machinery of our personal narratives.


1)Anterograde amnesia

2)HealthyMe Amnesia

3)E Medicine, Transient Global Amnesia

4)Transient Global Amnesia Case Studies

5)Neuroland, TGA

6)Transient Global Amnesia

7)HealingWell, What Happened to Afterglow

8)Transient Ischemic Attack

9)Basilar Artery Migraine Page

10)The Diencephalon

11)Medial Temporal Lobe

12)The Cognitive and Habit Subsystems , A great image of the anatomy of the brain.



Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post a comment below)

07/18/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Today in our morning paper in “The People’s Pharmacy” column, transient global amnesia was described. Finally I have a name for the strange episode that I experienced several years ago in Paris. A goggle search led me to your very informative site. Thanks.

08/28/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Serendip was helpful re: TGA. I had an episode in Vauvert, France, last March,05 I was out of it for 5 to 6 hours, so my husband says. The emergency room doctor in Nimes, France, stated that it was "dehydration" that caused the loss of memory. After looking up many reports about TGA, my personality was just like the individuals that told about their episode. I was extremely frightened and when we had 6 more days to travel in France, I drank water like crazy. (I felt like it was not dehydration) I couldn't wait to get back to the USA. I had all the tests taken when at my clinic and nothing showed up. I have a history of migraine headaches. I did take a bath before I blacked out. I do vaguely remember filling the tub and I don't remember the water being cold or warm. I did not remember anything during or after the bath; My husband said I was fully dressed, but did not know where I was and kept repeating "where am I";I called him by name and our friends by name ( I don't remember any of this) If there are any more medical reports on TGA could I be receive email. 95% of individuals have never heard of TGA.

10/10/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Dear Serendip, I've had two episodes of Transient Global Amnesia and both occurred shortly after taking Fosamax (for osteoporosis). Both episodes followed working out at a local gym and I am convinced that physical exertion is a trigger. The first episode lasted about 4 hours and the second one lasted about 12 hours. Both times I was in and out of "consciousness". I could remember bits and pieces of conversations. It's a very wierd and frightening experience. My doctor said it rarely occurs more than once and since I've already had two episodes, I'm terrified it will happen again.

10/18/2005, from a Reader on the Web

I am one of the few people who have recurrent episodes of TGA. I have never retained any memory from an episode after the fact. My family has learned to notice predecessors to an attack that usually begin to develop between one to two days before a severe episode. I believe those may actually be mini-TGA episodes but there isn't enough data availabe for me to determine if that is true. The primary behaviors I display are: 1.)repetetive questions; i.e. "Where is my purse?" The same question may be asked several times within a short period of time. 2.) A generalized lack of ability to remain focused on a topic or conversation. 3.) Repetitively asking others to repeat themselves as if I did not hear them the first time. Within a day or two of onset of the above symptoms I usually have a severe episode which is almost always while driving. I may be on my way to the store and end up in a neighboring state. My recent memory is not retained after these episodes but my distant memories are. For instance, immediately upon coming out of my first attack I could remember my childhood phone number but not my new home phone number. Thankfully, my parents still had the same phone number they had when I was a child so were able to determine my location and send help. Within about an hour my short term memory was restored to the time that I left my house but I never recovered any memory of anything that transpired during the event. I have never recovered memories of anything that transpired while in a state of TGA other than a few 'flashbacks' that come to me like quick snapshot photos. Sometimes I will experience the preceding symptoms without it developing into a severe attack and sometimes I will have a severe attack without having displayed any of the precursory symptoms. I was apparently attacked during one episode which was determined after I arrived at my destination nearly two hours late without even realizing I was late. Those waiting for me were shocked to see me arrive with bruises on my throat, arms, and legs which were determined upon physical evaluation to have been caused by having someone's hands gripping me. There was one episode where I was not driving but came out of the spell several blocks from my home at 4:00am with no knowledge of how I had come to be there. I was, however, able to navigate my way back home. My EEG's are normal as are my MRI's. There is no evidence of epilepsy, stroke, or migraines associated with my attacks and no apparent triggers. The statistics on recurrence do not fit my case. I have had recurrent episodes ranging from one month to one year apart consistently for the past several years. Is there any hope for a cure? Right now, I depend on those around me to notice the preceding symptoms and keep an eye on me so that I do not drive alone or go anywhere without an escort until after I've had the episode but that obviously has not been effective. Any advice on how to live with this disorder would be sincerely appreciated. I had initially hoped I would fall within the statistical norm's and that it would subside with few new episodes but that has not been the case. This began in my early thirties and I am now 39 and am beginning to feel as though I have early onset Alzheimers or something. There must be something that can be done for those of us for whom this is not a simple 'once in a lifetime' experience.

11/29/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Yesterday I was diagnosed as having had TGA. I was so glad to have had a name for a most distressing condition that happened to me last August. I still cannot remember 6 to 7 hours of my time that I spent with my daughter, her partner and my 9 months old baby grandaughter, last August. I meant to stay only overnight but the frightening experience of TGA did not allow me to drive myself home again for a week. My daughter called an ambulance. I was taken to hospital but I was discharged before the end of the day, when my memory returned. I could not understand why I could not remember what had happened to me. I had not fallen over or become unconscious.

12/17/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Yesterday morning I was released from the hospital following the third attack that we believe was TGA. The first one occured in 1994 & was actually diagnoised as TGA, but with little information to go along with it. All my attacks have occured immediately after sexual intercourse and I apparently tell my husband that "something is wrong with me, I don't feel right & I can't remember". However, during the time of the "Amnesia" I continue to 'function' as if everything is okay, with the exception of asking the same questions repeatly. During this recent attack I even set up my medications for the week and only knew that I did so by what my husband had told me. When I was aware of what was going on again, I rechecked my meds and sure enough, they were accurate, no mistakes whatsoever. I again had another attack in 1995 which was of a much shorter duration. In all the attacks some of the common denomenators are: occurrance (sexual activity), headache previous to onset, & a total memory loss during the first 2-4 hours, and the ability to verbalize to my husband that I feel something is going wrong in my body, and then to 'function'per my husband telling me later all that I did, such as filling my weekly meds, taking the dog out, giving the Emergency Room staff pertainent information (Dr's phone numbers, my recent lab values, etc.) The time during the amnesia in all attacks has been permanently lost. I have no recall during those hours & what went on. I have been told there has been NO CONFUSION OR hallucination either. In June of 1995 I was found to have renal anureysums on the right renal artery. I lost a kidney through this surgery. There have been no further attacks until two days ago. I am wondering if the is any correlation between the renal anureysums & TGA. I really appreciated reading your information on TGA. Please feel free to e-mail anything else that may be helpful. Is there any documentation of this being a heriditary factor?

01/15/2006, from a Reader on the Web

Was just Googling around about amnesia. Recently saw an episode of "House" on TV and wanted to look up Korsikoff's Syndrome (one of the "conditions" diagnosed on that show) to see if that was what I had. Glad I "only" had transient global amnesia. I had it July 13, 1996, a hot and humid Friday in Washington D.C. I'd been on a high-protein diet for 6 months and had lost 43 pounds. Left work at 5:30, commuted home an hour or so, met friends for coffee at a restaurant, went home around 8 and told my husband, "I think I've had a stroke, I need three aspirin." Took them and went up to bed. Came back five minutes later and said "I think I've had a stroke, I need three aspirin." To make a long story short, he took me to the E.R. where I was "polite" until they wanted to give me an MRI. They gave me an IV tranquilizer so they could give me the test. They found nothing. I remember nothing between leaving work and waking up at noon the next day with a hospital bracelet on my writst. E.R. had referred me to a neurologist, but I didn't go. I went to my primary care physician, who determined I had low sodium, and had lost three more pounds. I'm convinced it was electrolyte depletion from the diet and the hot day. Funny thing, the experience hasn't bothered me at all - I'm even amused. A few years later I went to the hospital to give blood. They put in my SS number and up came all my information, even the cross-streets where I'd worked in D.C. I asked how they had all that info, and the nurse said, "You've been admitted here." I argued that I hadn't and then laughed. I HAD been admitted, but of course I didn't remember. The thing that helped me feel "normal" the next day - I had my husband take me to the county swimming pool. When I jumped into the pool, it was as though I was jumping back into my body. Glad to read the phenomenon (unlike Korsikof's Syndrome) isn't that big a deal. Eloise

01/24/2006, from a Reader on the Web

I had my second episode with TGA last week. This time it did not last as long but on both occasions I was lifting weights. The first occasion was December 2000. I went to the Hospital and after a series of tests, it was concluded that I had TGA. My primary physician was skeptical with the diagnosis. Last week while lifting weights it happened again. I called my wife from my car but drove home. After a few hours I took a long nap. Not normal for me. But I felt very tired. Slept for about 3 hours. Upon rising I believe that most if not all of the episode was over. The first episode lasted about 8 hours. last week about 4-6 hours,since I took a nap still in the TGA period. My question is: Do I dare lift weights again or better what should I do differently to avoid it happening again?

01/31/2006, from a Reader on the Web

I have experienced two episodes of TGA. The first was after a long period of work stress. During that period I had sporadically missed taking my medications for high blood pressure. I was unable to know where I was and how I got there or what I was doing. The episode lasted approximately 6 hours of which the memory is lost. The second, approximately two and a half years later, also followed a long period of work stress affected my past memory, I was driving and knew where I was going but couldn't remember where I had been. I am 61 years old. Samuel Garofalo


Additional comments made prior to 2007

One week ago I experienced and episode of transient global amnesia, caused by a TIA, as diagnosed by the emergency room physician. I am a 60 year old woman with mild hypertension;
beginning stages of Type 2 diabetes; and high cholesterol. The episode lasted approximately
one and a half hours, while I was driving in the car alone. I managed to call my husband, who
directed me to turn off the highway, stop at a parking lot, take an asprin he knew I carried in
my purse. He reached me in 20 minutes and took me to the E.R.

The symptoms were: 20 minutes of driving while totally confused, not clear where I was or where
I had been going; no headache or physical pain; confusion; fear; no awareness of time; unable to
remember what my husband told me after a few seconds.

The greatest concern I have is the possibility of a full stroke, as a TIA can be a precursor to a full
stroke. The steps I have taken include blood pressure medication (25 mgs of atenolol); a baby
asprin a day; added flaxseed oil daily (lowers cholesterol); fish oil capsules daily; vitamin E for
heart health; changes in diet to reduce carbohydrate consumption; lost seven pounds to assist
in lowering insulin resistance and therefore better manage diabetes.

It would have been beneficial to have started precautionary measures before such a frightening
episode! I most certainly will pay serious attention to preventative health measures in the hope
of never experiencing such an event again. Although there seem to be no lingering effects, it
will be a long time before I forget the associated fear. I am reluctant to add statin drugs as they
potentially can cause temporary amnesia, as well as a multitude of other side effects ... Judy, 19 February 2006



I've been diagnosed with TGA after an episode at work. We really thought it was low blood sugar (hypoglcemia) because I came out of the episode shortly after being made to eat some fruit. My sugar tests came back normal, as did everything else that was run, including a 24-hour ambulatory EEG. It\'s nice to know this is really a benign situation, but I don't have any of the "usual" triggers. No physical exertion before, no water immersion, and I\'m a young (35) female. I've now had two episodes - one for about 45 minutes at work and another while driving for about 45 minutes. One site mentioned that less than 3% have more than 3 episodes.

Have there been any studies of sugar levels and what brings a person out of a TGA episode? There doesn't seem to be much to go on with this diagnosis ... Dierdra Barton, 22 March 2006



I am 53 years old and have been in good health. The other night though, I became confused during the dinner conversation and unable to recognize any of the people my wife and kids had been talking about. It turned out that they were all friends and associates of mine, but no amount of prompting could convince me so. At one point, the family got out the church directory, and for the life of me, I could not associate any of the names with the faces. I was clueless. When asked, I couldn't name the current U.S. President. An emergency room physician diagnosed me as having TGA, Transient Global Amnesia. I will see a neurologist in a few days, and am looking forward to finding out more about this condition. I've had mild hangover-like symptoms for 3 days now, and I'll bet they're related ... Charlie, 17 April 2006



I just had my 5th major episode of TGA. I had my first one in my late 40s and I am now 59. All 5 of these episodes were brought on by emotional stress or anxiety. I won't go into detail unless you reply and request it. I have had a few minor episodes with out the complete amnesia. It was interesting reading the other readers comments. Thanks ... Bryan Eldredge, 2 May 2006



Was very happy to find your article after Googling temporal lobe amnesia. While this is very early in my research, you have given me great relief with regard to my older sister's husband. He entered the hospital yesterday evening with no recollection of the prior few hours. He has suffering from high blood pressure (no prior history) and high blood sugar (no prior history). The early diagnosis is TLA or a mild stroke, yet he has a complete lack of typical stroke symptoms. We are still waiting for the MRI results, but you have given me a basis for being optimistic. Thank you ... Reader on the web, 14 May 2006



I had an episode of TGA on Sunday (just 5 days ago). Of course I didn't know then that was what it was. I was at church and sang in the choir, sang a solo and played the organ. However I can't remember doing these activities from halfway through the service on. I was appropriate after church visiting with friends and even driving home. I remember none of this. My husband took me to the ER when her realized I wasn't thinking clearly. By then I was almost back to "normal". The entire episode lasted about three and a half hours. I've been fine since and am going through the tests to rule out other causes for this. I don't have results yet, but feel sure TGA is what it was. I'm waiting for clearance to return to work and driving. My MD has forbidden both for now. Do most patients with TGA return to their lives as they knew them? I really want my life back even though it has only been a few days! ... Laura, 25 May 2006



My father now aged 65 has started experiencing this.he got first attack two weeks after he underwent surgery for prostate and was recovering at home.Now it has happended 3-4 times since then. he loses memeory of event or talks or episode ( past memories) but remembers people and place. he could not remember that he had underwent surgery during the last episode. I shall be greatful If anyone can guide on the following?
a)My father has to undergo now MRI and I am wondering what could be the causes of this?
b)How to manage this?Is there any cure?

Thanks and best regards ... Sunil, 1 June 2006



Two days ago we had a similar frightening situation with my father -- sudden, complete -- although temporary -- memory loss. Found your post with a Google Search. Thanks so much, it's calming me down considerably! Will check back with diagnoses after MRI tomorrow ... Heidi, 20 June 2006



I am grateful to have found this site. I had TGA 3 years ago "out of the blue" and was diagnosed as such after MRI and cat scan came back fine and based on my loss of immediate memory and repetitive questioning "where I am, how did I get here, etc.). I was 47 year old female. Occured at work - no physical exertion invovled, etc. Then, just this last week, while taking a walk with a co-worker, I seemed to have had another TGA episode! I'm now 50, in good health - just expeiencing perimenopause and have developed migraine headaches in the last 6 months. As a result of onset of migraines 6 months ago, my dr had me have an MRI and MRA 7 when they started - both came back fine. I did not go to dr last week with TGA because it seemed so similar to episode 3 years ago. Did have headache for 3 days prior to this TGA and am continuing to have a headache ever since - has anyone ever had this? I am trying not to worry - and that is difficult at times. I wonder if "something else" has happened other than TGA. I feel fine except the headache and now wonder if I now have the ongoing headache due to worry? It's hard to sort out. Has anyone ever had similar feelings/experiences? I did read on the internet about some possible links between migraines and TGA. I also have a friend who wonders if it was not TGA and maybe dehydration? I can\'t sort it all out. This has been scary and disconserting to say the least. Thank you for "listening" ... Kathleen, 7 August 2006



I was released from the hospital last night after suffering a TGA. Of course, the doctors don't know what causes it to occur. All of the tests came out OK & my primary care doctor said this was a one-time thing, & very rarely reoccurred. To be perfectly honest, it scares the hell out of me! He said there is no connection to Alzheimer's or dementia, but I worry that there might be a relationship years from now. I am 55 years old & in good health generally, except for being overweight & taking BP meds.


My episode came on after I worked outside in 90 degree heat for an hour or so, came inside & cooled off, took a nap (1 to 1-1/2 hrs.), then got up & took a shower. My wife said when I got out of the shower I had the "deer in the headlights" look & asked nonsensical questions. She says I answered questions about name,home address & phone # ?s correctly, but did not remember some other recent events.


We went to the ER, where I came out of it after initially talking to the doctor. My wife says there was a family squabble in the ER waiting room, but I only remeber it as happening a while ago, not that evening. I remember sitting close to a person I thought I knew & thinking I would ask them, but I don't remember actually asking them, but she says I did.


I wonder about certain things that have happened to me before, much like the person who states he/she was driving one place & ended up in another. I often will start out going to one place like a store, & find myself on the road close to my work. I also have had allergic reactions to unknown triggers. These occurrences make me realize the brain is an organ we have much to learn about. Please post this to the forum ... Paul, 8 August 2006



Monday of this week Aug 21 I had a very strange episode in my life that was diagnosed by a neurologist as Transient Global Amnesia. I was working at my job and was alone. My wife called me about lunch and she said I acted very strange and since I have a history of strokes she sent an ambulance to my location. When the ambulance arrived I sent them away because I said there was nobody there who needed help. When my wife arrived she got the ambulance there and me to the hospital where I was diagnosed with TGA. It was one of the strangest days of my life of which I have no memory ... John Parton, 23 August 2006



I had an episode of trans global amnesia in March and still do research because it was so frightening. I am 61 and in fairly decent shape. It happened after exercise and sex. I told my husband I was having a TIA. I don't remember a shower I took or the trip to the hospital. I remember the CAT scan after it was almost finished. No damage was found and i have been fine but very cautious which is quite a shame since I don't like to have to feel so uneasy ... Reader on the web, 16 October 2006



My mother had her fourth attack yesterday and as your article states, whilst she is fine and can function during it, it is very scary for family and friends around her at the time. Our Doctors have never been able to shed much light on what happens or what causes them so thank you for your informative web pages - they've certainly helped me understand the situation a bit better. With Mum we have discovered it can be something as minor as a hic-cup that can trigger it. Only on one attack had she been doing exercise - the others she has either had a coughing fit or hic-cupped. Will we ever truly understand Mother Nature? My only concern is with my Dad having Type 2 diabetes and at higher risk of hypos now he is older, that the two never occur at the same time ... Jo, 20 October 2006



Since Jan of 2001 I have had 4 attacks of TGA. The first one lasted 8-9 hours and my husband and son took me to the ER. I had a CT scan, an MRI, MRA, and saw a neurologist. The last one happened a week ago. I have no memory of anything during the attacks. I had been a sufferer of migraines and they feel that is what may be triggering them. I was also recently divorced and had been under extreme stress since the summer of 2000. There seems to be a 1 1/2 year space between each one. Only one of them happened while I was driving. I always ask the same questions during each of them. What year is it, what day is it and what month is it. Also, anything that took place about 4-5 months prior to it is not remembered during the attacks. An example: I only remembered my daughter had one child when she had a second one 4 1/2 months ago. I do function during these spells but question anything out of place. I also used to try to remember what took place during the attacks but now I just let it go. A Dr. told me not to dwell on something that is not there and never will be as nothing was retained during that time so I won't have any memory of it.


It is very scarey afterwards and I find myself constantly questioning myself about events testing my memory. After a period of time that part gradually stops ... Jen, 6 November 2006



On September 20, 2006 while visiting my husband's family in New Jersey I had what I have now been told was an episode of Transient Global Amnesia. I had never heard of it before. We had spent the day before visiting Ground Zero in New York, which was very emotionally stressful for me. We also took a boat tour of New York Harbor and I had my first chance to see the Statue of Liberty, I'm from California and this was my first visit to New York. The next morning, after taking my weekly Fosamax medication (I am 62 years old and have had osteopenia for a number of years)my husband tells me that I began to behave strangely, telling him that there was something wrong. I was disoriented and couldn't seem to stay awake, unusual behavior for me. My brother-in-law preparred breakfast for us but evidently I wasn't very adept at feeding myself, also unusual behavior for me. My husband determined that he thought I was having a stroke and took me to the hospital. They did a CAT scan and determined that I did not have a brain hemorrage and were preparring to give me medication to combat the effects of a stroke but evidently I was beginning to show signs of improvement so they waited. I finally came back to my senses aroud 5:00 P.M. I don't remember anything that happened between the time I finished my glass of water in the morning at about 9:30 A.M. until they were taking me to a hospital room at about 5:00 P.M. I have had a CAT Scan, a sonogram of my arteries, a sonogram of my heart function, an MRI, and two EEG's (one while sleep deprived). No abnormalities have been detected. I spent three days in the hospital in New Jersey and came back to follow up with a Neurologist here in California. The Neurologist in California is the one who suggested that what happened to me was TGA. I was told to just look it up on the Internet and that it wouldn't happen again. Well, from all of the things I've read here on this websight, it appears very possible it could happen again. I remember absolutely nothing about what happened during the episode and yet my husband tells me that I was very able to communicate with the emergency room personnel in New Jersey and was even able to explain to them exactly what medications and vitamin supplements I was taking and what they were for. It's a very frightening experience, I'm hoping someone can help us understand this phenomenon ... Ann Craft, 15 November 2006



Is there anywhere that I can find more info on TGA? ... Hywel, 9 January 2007



My mother had an episode of global transient amnesia, recovered quickly, but does not remember anything that occurred during the episode, which we were told is a hallmark of the disorder.


Does your father remember now what transpired during the event? ... Betsey Thompson, 10 February 2007



I have had an episode of TGA which lasted about 9 hours. I can only remember brief snippets of what happened. For a few days afterward I still had some memory problems, was more agitated, headache, neckache, and very fatigued. 6 weeks later my memory is fine,feeling better, but still some headaches, neck aches, and somewhat easily fatigued. Nothing shows up on the MRI of the brain, CT scan, Venogram, blood tests for encephalitis and I just had an MRA of the neck and do not know the results. I was not under stress, might have been some sexual activity (cannot remember), but I am concerned about the continued symptoms and continue seeing a good neurologist. I am 64 years old, had some abdominal surgery 30 plus years ago ... DM, 4 March 2007



I have had two episodes, five years apart. Both followed very stressfull situations, one loosing my dog of 15yrs and loosing my youngest brother suddenly. I did not necessarily feel stressed at the time but had taken a warm shower both time just before on-set. I remember most of the first episode but have no memory of the 6-8 hrs of the second episode. My family recognized the symptoms from the first episode and just made me lay down and go to sleep. Had I stayed awake I may have eventually remembered everything. Both of these two events were noted because I called a family member during the on-set. I do wonder if there have been other times when I did not think to call someone. I am very scared about taking showers. Being that I like to take a shower daily, this could really be a problem!! If I drink a cold glass of water prior and after a warm shower will that make it safer? The last episode just happened the other night. I wish I knew more ... Paula Ross, 20 March 2007



Recently I witnessed my wife's behaviour during a Transient Global Amnesia or TGA episode. This is a well documented condition as per:


Miranda Whites artical


The behaviour of the patient could be best described as severe instant Alzheimer's. There is no memory of something that has happened 5 seconds ago. The patient repeats the same questions over and over again of events that have just been explained to them, such as where am I, what happened ect.


Witnessing an episode it appears that the part of the brain affected is the same part of the brain that gets affected in Alzheimer's.


With TGA the onset is commonly bought on by stress, vigorous exercise or sex. The common thread is energetic activity by the patient. It appears the brain is temporarily deprived of blood supply that rectifies itself in a short while, usually 3 to 4 hours.


By the time the patient has been taken to a hospital the cause of the problem is not evident in tests performed. If there is a depravation of blood to a part of the brain it seems to me that there are three ways it can occur.


1. Rupture of vein.
2. Blockage of vein.
3. Collapse of vein.


Obviously the first two could be observed, but the third can be self rectifying with no tell tale after affects. Once the patient relaxes the vein will dilate and perform as usual. This makes seeking the cause extremely difficult as there is no defect in the brain for the doctor to find.


What I am trying to describe is a tube, ìveinî collapsing by way of a vacuum being drawn on it, this is the same as a coolant pipe in a car collapsing when the supportive spring is removed from inside the pipe. Rev the engine and the pipe will collapse, let the engine idle and the pipe opens up again. Sorry for this analogy but it's the best way I can describe it.


The purpose of this letter is not so much as to find a cure for TGA, but may, if I am correct, be solution to the Alzheimer's condition. If the part of the brain affected by TGA is the same as Alzheimerís the cause of Alzheimer's may be a gradual closing off over several years of the same vein affecting TGA.


I don't know how much attention is paid to TGA by way of research as it is not a life threatening condition, but if this condition explains Alzheimer's the consequences are huge.


I don't mean to be a provocative layman but if I did not write this letter and I am correct, I would never forgive myself ... Jim Heath, 29 March 2007



Three days ago I was sitting at work and messenged a friend that I didn't feel right and something was wrong. He got me help and they took me to the ER. I've been told I was terrified and it was like I did a hard-reset every minute. I asked the same questions over and over. My son wrote down the answers and then when I asked, they pointed at the paper. I'd read it, look up and ask again. It lasted about 8 hours. It's left me with a headache and feeling a bit shaky. My neurologist said I'm fine and it should never happen again. But when you lose a chunk of your life that you will never remember, it's really disconcerting ... Jackie McKnite, 30 March 2007



I am so grateful I stumbled upon this website! A month ago I came home from work, changed my clothes and went to the barn to tell my husband I was having trouble remembering the events of the day. He took me to the ER. I don't remember the 6 hours that transpired after that, but finally I "woke up" and asked my husband "what happened?" His hesitation made me think that it was bad news, but it was only that I had asked him that same question every few minutes for the last 6 hours! (After explaining to him that I just woke up from a dream). I remembered who I was, who he was, where I worked, and what I was scheduled to do that day. But I did not remember that my brother was getting married in 2 months, that we were going to the wedding or that I had bought the airline tickets. Gradually I was able to put together what happened earlier in the day but have never recalled the 6 hours after the onset. This wasn't really terrifying for me because it was like it happened to someone else. Although he was concerned, after 6 hours my 9 year old started to have fun with it. He entertained himself at the hospital by telling me that I had a CAT scan so he could see my astonished reaction and watch me bust out laughing every 2 minutes because of remembering our favoirite movie scene of Tim Allen riding off in a sleigh in "The Santa Claus", his voice trailing off saying that when he gets home, he's getting a CAT scan! Prior to the episode, I had a 45 minute drive home from a new job that is very stressful. I also suffer from migraines every 1 or two months. That month I had three and they were more severe than usual. My episode was misdiagnosed as toxic exposure for lack of any other explanation, after reporting that I had mushroom soup for lunch. I have been wondering what really happened. All the tests only verified that my thyroid is low. In my research to find answer, I am seeing a pattern or some relationship between low thyroid and migraines and, now, migraines and TGA ... Sharron May, 14 April 2007



It has been theorised that I perhaps had a silent stroke and consequently...eletrical activities, that sets off these event they call TGAs. Since December 2003....I have experienced at least ten events...What number can one expect that falls into the unique category. I have given up driving and except for the loss of some long past memories, balance problems from time to time..I have been pronounced " in good shape for a person my age "..Female 86, Is there any proof that epilepsy is not the problem? my neurologist has me on Lamictal! ... Margaret K, 24 June 2007



I just had my second episode of TGA (am I glad to finally find a name for my experience). Both episodes were preceded by having sexual intercourse when I was in an emotionally stressful state of mind. In both episodes, I came back to our bedroom after taking a bath and dressing up, sat at my side of the bed and told my husband, "I feel something's wrong with me." Thereafter, I kept repeating a series of questions mostly associated to the cause of my stress (first episode: our son's departure for a protracted assignment in a foreign land and second episode: my daughter's gall bladder removal operation). In both episodes my first question was "What date is it?". With the second episode I fully recovered my memory after three hours unlike with my first episode where my recovery took more than twelve hours. My observation is that when an episode occurs, one must lie down and rest, drink lots of water, and have someone around who can patiently answer one's repetitive questions as well as ask questions and recall incidents related to the traumatic/stressful occurence so that the patient can slowly bring back his memory. For me, prayers and the kindness of my husband helped me get through the second episode ... Maria 25 June 2007



I have suffered Total Global Amnesia in transient duration. I am 78 and the recent one was about a month back. I was unaware of the onset and drove out doing my job and came back. I do not remember the drive, but do remember now all events prior and after the drive.


My test to know whether I am likely to suffer TGA is, I do quick calculations like, 9+17=25 etc etc, plus do "navigation" on the computer. Operate the computer and log on to various sites one after the other. If I am fast enough, then all is ok or else, I better be careful and no driving etc. ... Nisar ul Haq, 1 July 2007



I am a 39 year old female and have been suffering these attacks since approximately 1995. The first time it happened, I had just taken a shower, which was not cold, nor too hot, and I was "out of it" for that day and some of the next. The funny thing was that it wasn't explainable and I couldn't describe the way it felt and both of my parents determined I was on some kind of drugs (not true). It was never an issue again until I had my daughter in 2000, then I had another "episode" 3 days after I had her, again after taking a shower. They continued on and off throughout the year, and my dr did an xray of my throat and saw that my vein was white (calcified). Nothing was ever done about it, I complained again, then he sent me to an ear nose throat dr who went down my throat with a camera and said everything was fine...(quack) so here it is 2007 I'm still suffering (so far seven this year alone) from the "episodes" but with a new dr that actually listens to what I'm saying. He sent me to have test after test that all came back normal until the cartoid doppler test showed a "flap" in my jugular vein. Which led us to TGA...I was relieved because it finally had a name, but at the same time scared to death because it's rare, and I have 2 daughters to consider. In conclusion, the "episodes" either happen to me because I take a shower, or I wake up like that already. Its really good to see that there are other people like me...I thought I was crazy, and I think my other doctor did too. To all of you other sufferers out there, may God bless you and I hope you too find some kind of solution because its very scary to go thru let alone have your family watch you go thru it ... Suzanne Reyes, 10 September 2007



I woke up one morning and had a terrible headache. Thinking it was nothing I went to the bathroom and took a bath in hopes of relaxing it down, instead it increased the severity of the headache. I got out and dressed whliest my parents (I was 16 at the time) asked me if everything was ok because I got out of the bath extremely quickly. In the middle of my speech with them it seemed like they stopped talking English and instead made wierd words and phrases up. I tried to talk to them, but to my memory they wouldn't understand. I woke up in the ER some six hours later. My folks told me that I had thrown up twice and they had to get drag me to the ER. They said I tried talking but murmers and randomn words came out of my mouth. I didn't remember any of this, and after several tests run by doctors, I was diagnosed with Global Amnesia ... Craig, 21 Octoer 2007



I don't know if what I'm experiencing is TGA or not, but it's the closest symptomology that I've found. I think that my amnesic episodes are of just a few minutes duration. At least the one today was short--lasting approximately five minutes as I drove. There were no precursor indications and no problems recovering from the incident. As others have said, I apparently can function fine during the episode and then have no memory of what transpired. I have apparently had these episodes over about two years. As far as I know, I have never been around anyone else when they happened and they are not related to having sex or the other activities that have been mentioned. I only began to suspect that I was having "blackouts" when things began missing or moving around my house and yard. I have not yet seen a doctor about these events, so this is my own diagnosis. I hope these episodes cease, because it's getting expensive replacing missing ipods! ... Bill Watson, 21 October 2007


S.T.'s picture

your TGA might actually be transient epileptic amnesia (TEA)

hi people, I know this comment comes long after the other ones but since I found these stories very helpful when trying to figure out what my dad was going through, I wanted to share my family's experience. Although my dad was initially believed to have had TGA episodes a couple of times over the course of a few years, these events became more frequent and he was subsequently diagnosed with transient epileptic amnesia (TEA). If you have had recurrent 'TGA', it may well be TEA - this is an underdiagnosed form of epilepsy that can come on in your 50s/60s, more so for men. He takes medication which instantly stopped the episodes, although unfortunately the medication doesn't resolve any memory issues that might have occurred. I would strongly encourage anyone who is having unexplained TGA-type events to look into TEA. A starting place is: and this focused project in the UK:

Cynthia J.'s picture

TGA Episodes

I've had two TGA episodes--one in 2010 and one in June 2020. Both occurred while exercising. During the 1st, I was exercising in the gym with a personal trainer for the first time. My husband says he worked me like I was training for the Olympics! I was 55 years old and in good health. I told the trainer I felt strange and didn't know where I was. I was transported to the hospital. I repeated the same questions and couldn't remember the day's events. My son Googled my symptoms by my bedside and quickly came up with my TGA diagnosis. After 6 hours or so, it was like a curtain raised on my consciousness and instantly I was aware of my hospital surroundings, my husband, adult sons, and future daughter-in-law. Early on, my future daughter-in-law recalled that her grandmother had had multiple TGA episodes that were similar to my experience. She was able to calm their fears enough that they could see the humor in my repeated questions and they took turns answering them. All my tests were negative for abnormalities and my short-term memory and personal sense of wellness returned to normal within a day--though my husband says it was a month before I seemed completely myself.

On 6/25/2020 at the age of 65 (2 days after a rigorous 8-mile bike ride), I exercised to a Curves video and had a 2nd episode of TGA. I had decided to add two 10lb weights to my squats and the TGA started. My husband said I told him I had a brain fart (don't know where that came from!), so he sat me down. I just stared at the computer screen looking confused. He called my physician sister, who was aware of my TGA history, but advised him to call the paramedics, anyway, to rule out a stroke. I was congenial and cooperative and passed their preliminary evaluations and EKG. For 6 hours I kept repeating: "So what happened? So we're in Monroe? Was I working out and had a brain fart? I don't remember the ambulance. All the gyms are closed? There's a pandemic? Do I have COVID-19? We went for a bike ride? The fog is lifting!" After 6 hours or so, the fog actually started lifting gradually. I was given every test known to man, but nothing abnormal turned up. My blood pressure did stay high for the entire episode and hours thereafter. For a couple days, I felt a little woozy a few times, but that all went away.

So what triggered my TGA? Obviously, exercise. My PCP has recommended not doing any exercises involving the Valsalva maneuver (bearing down as during constipation, heavy weight lifting, and leg presses). It can raise blood pressure. Other TGA contributors could have also elevated my blood pressure: constipation (my husband reminded me that I took magnesium citrate days earlier), the extra coffee I started drinking to help with regularity, taking the maximum dose of Aleve (anti-inflammatory meds can raise blood pressure), intercourse, and stress from current events. In other words, I likely experienced a perfect storm of TGA triggers.

As a precaution, I am now on blood pressure and low-dose cholesterol meds, along with a baby aspirin. Prior to the episode, by blood pressure was always normal to borderline and my cholesterol was borderline. I worked out several times a week in the gym and walked 3 miles on another couple of days. My neurologist has ordered a heart monitor for me to wear for 2 days, but doesn’t expect it to show any abnormalities, either. It’s just to complete the battery of tests.

I hope this information helps someone seeking answers and sparks the interest of the medical community to figure this out.

Mrs Marlene Thompsell's picture

multiple episodes, control, memory loss

I am 72 years old and had my first episode in my mid 50s when I worked in Distance Education. My stressors are as varied as those from other sufferers. My first episode occurred when I drove 3 hours through the Gawler ranges in South Australia, cleaned the vehicle then rang my husband, daughter and a taxi to take me home. I have had 5 medically recorded and a number of other episodes since then, sparked from cutting out material, cleaning graffiti, trimming hedges......and other causes I forget. A number of years ago my local GP prescribed Escitalopram 10 MG daily.THIS HAS BEEN MY SAVIOUR AND I RECOMMEND IT TO ALL MULTIPLE EPISODE PEOPLE. Since taking this medication I, and my daughters, have been able to recognise early symptoms and I have gone to bed to sleep it off.
I do know that my immediate short-term memory no longer exists. I write everything I am to do in my phone and on a white board as I almost instantly forget what I am to do. This is a frustratingly long term effect of the numerous TGAs I have suffered and the least accepted by anyone else especially as I am now 72 years old.

Serendip Visitor's picture

TGA and migraine

I'd like to thank everyone for sharing their stories.

John-Paul Coetzee's picture

TGA after swimming in cold sea

Two days ago (Christmas Eve 2017) I had an episode called Transient Global Amnesia or TGA and I ended up being taken by ambulance to the Constantiaberg Medical centre. It was very scary.

About 5pm Robyn and I were swimming in the sea. The water was very cold and I did the usual thing (for me), I dived straight in and stayed under until I’d adjusted. Brrrrr! and Owwwww! but it’s the quickest way to get used to it.

A few minutes after I’d dived into the base of one wave, I felt very strange. The last thing I remember clearly is looking up at the mountain over the bay. Robyn says I came up to her and said “Robs, I’m feeling really odd” then I looked around blankly and asked “Where am I? How did I get here?”. I kept rubbing my face and saying “I don’t know where I am”. I knew my name, her name and a few family names but very little else. I couldn’t remember where we lived, or what job I did. I had lost all memory of the last couple of years. I had no idea where we were staying. Robyn led me back to our room, and every few minutes I asked her “Where am I? How did I get here?” and she had to explain it all over again. I could not retain any information. I didn’t recognise Valerie and Judy, the two ladies who live here. Apparently I was frightened, but calm.

Back at the house Robs showered me (apparently I was very cold) and we went upstairs while one of the ladies dialled 911. I remember none of this, the first thing *I* can recall about the whole episode is David the paramedic assessing me. David decided that I had some symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”) and that I needed to be checked out immediately so called an ambulance.

In the ambulance I was speaking to the medic OK. I can remember one or two details about the journey. Some older memories started to return, although at the hospital I still had difficulty finding my way back to the waiting room from the toilet, through one open door and about 4 metres around a corner.

The doctor did a blood pressure check, blood sugar level check and assessed me for physical problems and reflexes, i.e. typical symptoms of stroke. He could find nothing wrong. He told me that he thinks I had Transient Global Amnesia (TGA), very similar to stroke but with no physical symptoms. Transient = very brief, Global = unable to recall the past and unable to make any new memories. He said that he had only seen this once before, and funnily enough it was also in a lady who had been swimming in cold water. I felt fine physically so we were discharged. We got a cab back to the house and had a glass of wine and a snack with the very concerned landladies!

Obviously I Googled it LIKE MAD and TGA is a rare but well-documented syndrome. It does not indicate stroke, quite the opposite, bizarrely. It is linked to migraine in ways that are not understood and I do get a couple of visual migraines per year. It may or may not recur, usually it does not. And the most common trigger is swimming in cold water (and vigorous sex, but, well, you know…).

It was a very strange and frightening time for both of us. This article in the Guardian describes what happened very well except that this man’s episode lasted a lot longer, mine was an hour or so:

Yesterday (Christmas Day) I felt a bit disoriented, a bit like you do with a hangover or after a migraine. Generally fine. We went for a drive, had a couple of short walks and went for a late Christmas lunch at a restaurant on the beach. All lovely.

Please don’t worry about me, based on what the doctor and Google said we’re not going to change our plans. I’m really writing this to save having to explain it all verbally, and to get the details down before my normal non-transient crappy memory forgets it again! I described the event as like someone pressing “reset” in my brain and starting from fresh. When you do that to your computer it runs really well for a few days so maybe my thinking will be super-quick. Briefly.

Steve's picture


I had a TGA experience in August 2014 during the day, around noon, after sex, and also not having had anything to eat. I had all the symptoms - repeatedly asking the same questions, didn't know what my employees were doing or where they were doing it. This lasted for around 4 hours and I regained a reasonable amount of normality, but I have not been right since. For some months I would forget what I was talking about mid sentence and would just have the words dry up as if I'd lost concentration. This has got better and pretty much back to normal.

The worst thing I have had to deal with since I had the TGA is my head feels wrong - I have had 2 MRI's and 2 lots of blood tests and the neurologists have no explanation for my symptoms. I feel my head is spinning/dizzy and I feel slight pressure on the ears, especially after a brisk walk or physical work, and permanently tired. This has made me not want to exercise, which in turn has caused me to put weight on. Drinking alcohol also has a different effect compared to how I used to feel before the TGA and I get really bad hangovers after a relatively small amount .

I did have quite a bad accident back in 1992 when I was rear ended (whilst at a standstill) by another car doing around 40mph, so I have spent years in and out of chiropractors.

Feeling like this has mad life pretty miserable and I wonder if I'm going to have to live with it for the rest of my life (I'm 61). Has anyone experienced similar after effects?

Serendip Visitor's picture

cervical alignment?

Steve, I read your comment with interest. I am a 51yo female and experienced a TGA event while doing floor exercises in my home almost 4 weeks ago. I am just now getting back to feeling normal. I lost 5-6 hours of memories. I had a "peace of mind" chiropractic adjustment about 10 days after my TGA event and the chiropractor was alarmed at how misaligned my C1 & C2 vertebrae were (to the point of suggesting I go back to my PCP and ask for certain x-rays to rule out a fracture). So I did as he suggested and the x-rays turned out fine (so I'm told) but I found it interesting that when I researched online (I know that is dangerous... lol) about cervical misalignment and found info that linked the C1 vertebrae (in particular) being out of place with amnesia and high blood pressure. After my adjustment my BP has dropped about 10 points without any other changes, and I FEEL more "right". I could find nothing linking cervical misalignment with TGA, but I wonder... You mention that you've been to a chiropractor but has that ever been looked at specifically (C1 & C2)? I'd be curious if you find anything on this... Thanks. I hope your recovery continues.

Serendip Visitor's picture

TGA - does it run in families?

Last April 2015 I had a TGA while launching a sailboat. 72 yr old male. I remember putting a shackle on one floating tire, then I apparently picked up the shackle for the other one and looked around rather confused and asked my buddies "What's this for?" After a few repetitions of that and a few repetitions of other questions they took me to the nearby hospital where TGA was diagnosed. I was out totally for about an hour, with half hour slide into it and a half hour slide out.
I live in Canada. I have a cousin, guy 6 years older than me, lives in UK. Two years ago he (age 76) drove the wrong way around a roundabout and crashed head on into another car. He walked away but the other driver was killed. The court determined that my cousin had temporarily blacked out or gone to sleep, and it was just an unfortunate accident.
I wonder if TGA runs in families, and maybe whatever causes it can cause other but similar effects on different people...

ChristinaBate's picture


I am 70 yrs old lady, and today I completely lost my memory for half an hour. I was on my own, and couldn't remember anything.i don't know how but somehow I phoned a friends number, and spoke gobbledegook. She came straight round and called an ambulance . They gave me oxygen, and I felt very weak.i had a very bad headache. My BP was sky high, but I hate the sphignomeyers, or blood pressure machine.they di blood and urine tests at the hospital and gave me two tablets for high blood pressure.i has been under a lot of stress lately with bad health problems with my children. This happened to me 7yrs ago, and my memory went for about half an hour. This was very frightening,and just hope it doesn't happen again. The sight has comforted me greatly, in that I am not alone with this problem.they discharged me from the Hospital after 4 hours. Christina

Serendip Visitor's picture

TGA and TNA (Transient Numeric Amnesia)

I am a 76 year old male and had a frieghtning episode of TNA at age 59 where I lost all memory of numbers, my age, phone number, the year, numeric address, family birthdates and ages, etc. I was ten minutes from home and drove there quickly because I was afraid I would forget who I was and where I lived. When I entered my driveway I observed the numbers on my mailbox but they didn't mean anything to me. I assumed that was my address and was encouraged that I was able to re-learn numbers during my eoisode of Transient Numeric Amneria. A few minutes prior to the episode I was exposed to an unknown toxic smell. The episode lasted about four hours. Eight years later I had my second episode and five years after that I had my third episode. Neither of these episodes were preceded by any toxic exposer. I finally told my family physician who referred me to Vanderbilt Medical Center where EMI's and EEG's were performed and, of course all was normal.

On April 1, 2015, I had a full blown episode of Transient Global Amnesia. I was stressed out about the damage a recent ice storm did to my property and I had three ocular migraines the day before my episode. My wife took me immediately to Cookeville Regional Meical Center where EEG, MRI, Heart Scan, Carotid Scan, and numerous blood tests were performed and except for a slightly low platlet count was observed, all was normal. The results were sent to Vanderbilt and compared with their workup and the results were the same. My wife is a psychotherapist and was able to give an accurate acount of my cognitive behavior during the trip to the hospital. I asked the same questions over and over like where are we going and why.

I've told my wife that if it ever happens again just put me to bed and four hours later I'll be okay. My only fear is that if I'm driving alone, what will I do? Will I drive home or end up a hundred miles away? If I'm out on my property building brush piles and cuting logs with my chain saw and my wife is away from home, what am I likely to do? I sure wish I knew.

Darrow's picture


After three TGA attacks due to stress, I have the same concern of having an episode away from home: I now wear a medicalert bracelet, with my name, "transient global amnesia" and my husband's phone number. It makes me feel much more secure about leaving the house!

Serendip Visitor "doc "'s picture

Partial complex seizures or migraine presenting as TGA episodes?

Dear 76-year-old,I think I can reply as a physician and patient but I'm not a neurologist.

Your events sounds stereotypical- preceded by a seizure or atypical migraine aura, which would be the recurring presence of an abnormal odor perception. I wonder if this odor is always the same, and is always present as a sign before the episode of amnesia. This temporary loss of neuronal capabilities would localize your deficit to a specific brain area. I'm guessing this might be in the parieto-occipital cortex, which is superficial to Ammon's horn and the locus coeruleus, which are classic neuroanatomical structures involved in memory. Both complicated migraine and partial complex seizures have in common the temporary disruption of neuronal function. Both migraines and partial complex seizures tend to be stereotypical, however migraine auras are more commonly visual than olfactory. Seizure auras can be olfactory. The aura of migraine can occur without the headache, and complicated migraine results in transient or persistent neurological symptoms (even to TIA).

I myself had a ("neurally mediated") syncope diagnosis for several decades before I developed more clearly partial complex seizures. Early on in my 40's under psychosocial stress, I might pass out- including hitting the floor. Sometimes I would feel like I was going to and would have a visceral sensation of apprehension. Of course, there's an overlap of similar symptoms between this, panic attacks, complicated migraine and seizures. Eventually I had a couple of episodes of transient global amnesia.
The more clear seizure could be an uncomfortable visceral sensation, rising from my upper stomach toward my chest, then neck, followed sometimes, not always, by loss of consciousness. If I was sitting or standing, when I started to feel this way, I learned to get down on the ground so I would not fall. It could happen when I was alone or during conversation.

I will pull off the road if I have a similar sensation. Once I needed stitches after falling out of a chair, and once I ran about 150 feet off of the interstate headed toward a pond. Most of the time since there is an awareness that precedes the rare loss of consciousness, I can take action to avoid injury.

The good news is that I haven't had any of these episodes, except for migraine prodrome with some scintillating scotoma, for over three years, since I started to take and then increased (under neurologist supervision) zonisamide, for partial complex seizures. (I still tend to get woozy standing up fast on a warm day at times, and have the migraine prodrome rarely- which infrequently does interfere with my work. During the prodrome my visual imaging and reading are impaired but it usually only lasts for 10-15 minutes or so. I have rarely had the headache during my lifetime, but a few bad ones 30 to 40 years ago.)
Like you, EEG, CT and MRI have been negative. I do have some memory issues at age 60, but I'm APO e-4 positive.

Good luck to you, and if the sensation of smell often precedes the event, you can use that to stop what you're doing and get ready for the consequences. Also as above, it might be a seizure preceded by an olfactory aura, which could respond to medication. There are probably multiple causes the transient global ambesia syndrome.

Serendip Visitor, Fred's picture

Odor causing TGA

Hi doc,

I guess I forgot to mention that the terrible smell I experienced was only prior to the initial episode that affected only my numeric memory. Since then, the other two episodes of TNA and the episode of TGA had no smell associated with them. The smell seemed to be a very strong mold or something rotting in the closed-in crawl space under a log cabin we owned and rented out to a couple who left all sorts of belongings in the crawl space when they moved out. I was never able to locate the source of the odor and have never smelled anything quite like it before or since.

Since the smell was associated with only the initial episode, I tend to discount it as the primary onset. I have no medical education but was an engineer in aerospace for 36 years so when anything fails I immediately go into the failure analysis or root cause analysis mode of thinking. Studies seem to point to psychological stress, physical exertion, migraine headache, sexual intercourse, hot/cold water immersion as onsets. The common denominator appears to be an age range and possibly arterial age. I'm wondering why physicians don't look into the eyes of TGA patients to determine the extent of hardening of the arteries to determine an arterial age of the patients. As we get older and get hardening of the arteries and begin to lose some memory isn't that the result of oxygen starvation of brain cells? Now couple that with stress which constricts blood vessels and the brain is starving for more oxygen. Could the other onsets mentioned also constrict blood vessels? Could a TGA be a brain going into survival mode? So why not everyone? Do TGA patients have smaller diameter arteries in the brain? Or do only some of us have this survival mode component? I'm probably way off base here but it is just my engineering way of thinking and attempting to always determine the cause of failures.


Serendip Visitor's picture

TGA Episode

Had my first experience with TGA early Sat.after a dry cough attack that went on too long. When finished (according to my husband) I felt weird and called him from outside. I don't have any memory of this for about 3-4 hrs. I kept repeating my questions over and over in this state of confusion. My son called and I couldn't remember where he lived. This was upsetting to him so it was decided I should go to ER. Many tests done..last one being MRI and that is when my memory came back. They wanted to keep me overnight but I declined and signed a waver. I really felt so much better at that point. Things have been pretty normal but I have been more guarded all the way around. I was not given a diagnosis at hospital. Tests were normal. I am thankful for the ability to find information and now these personal stories. I have no doubt it was TGA. With no diagnosis from hospital, and DR out of town, It would have been upsetting without self-diagnosis.

Darrow's picture

3rd TGA Occurrence

I had my 3rd TGA attack yesterday. A friend told me today that just after it happened, I said I'd felt something "click" in my brain. The first was 3 years ago, the second 3 months ago. All were triggered by stressful incidents at work. I lose several hours before the incidents and also afterward, and never get them back. I also went into a waking dream state during exercise in the gym a few months ago, and was disoriented afterward for a few hours. I'm considering getting a medical alert bracelet in case it happens when I'm out, or driving, next time. I was discouraged to see that some people have had this happen 10 times. Are any meds shown to help prevent recurrence? I tried Cipro, which gave me bad depression and seemed to trigger my second attack, which happened while I was taking the Cipro.

Serendip Visitor's picture


I recently had a TGA. Yes, I have been a sleepwalker. I also had a pain in my neck after I got out of the hospital, but I assume(d) it was from the uncomfortable position they put my head in, when they did the brain scan. I was told by my neurologist in the hospital that it was a "one-time thing" so I am distressed to see all the posts from people who had experienced this multiple times.

SukiM's picture

my first TGA event

I was using a weight machine 2 days ago when I looked at my husband and told him I couldn't remember what we had been doing for the last hour. He took me to the ER and I had all the medical tests to rule out a stroke. I am a healthy 58 year old woman who has been trying to lose weight and work out for the past 3 weeks.( I've lost 8 pounds in that time period while eating mostly greens and veggies and cheeses.) I do have a history of silent migraines, and am on high blood pressure meds. Apparently I spent a lot of time that evening crying over family losses of the past two years, as each event was news to me. I thought I had lost 2 years of my children's lives as well, and mourned that. The dots are reconnecting now.

I am tired and am taking off two days from work since I don't understand what's happening. One doctor said this was random and not an excuse to skip exercising. Another told me to hold off on lifting. I go to my PCP tomorrow. I will keep reading and figure out what my body needs. I have had liver issues in the distant past (not alcohol related and all hepatitis tests were negative) and am thinking the sudden lack of sugar in my diet may have contributed to the stress on my body prior to the event? I was working very hard on a bicep/tricep machine and was probably holding my breath.

The food I have eaten today has been amazingly full of flavor, and it was just typical stuff.

It was good to find this site to read about the experiences of others, so thank you for posting.

Serendipmalcolm Visitor's picture

Memory loss experience

I am so wife and children work medical associated professions..they diagnosed me in 24 hrs..directed me to this web sight to comprehend my scenario..our son a Nuro scientist & his brilliant sister conferred with my wife & doctor. I am 73 diagnosed with sleep apnea, which I did nothing about. tThe machine & I did not see eye to plan is.moving doctor tomorrow....get instructions to operate my sleep machine and use it..Thankyou everyone for posting helped immensely ..I'm quite active ...anxious to return to GoodLife gym...also cut firewood with chums..

Shep's picture

I am aware I am Having a TGA Event During the Event

I am a 58 year old male who has experienced three TGA events over the course of the last 6 months. I am pretty certain at this point that they are brought on by heavy cardio exercise probably combined with low blood sugar and possibly caffeine. I also have a history of migraine's with aura which seem do occur under similar circumstances. My first TGA event happened at work and I couldn't tell my co-worker what year it was or remember that my mother had passed away recently (I did remember when reminded).

So the interesting part is that after the first of these episodes, I am now aware that I have this condition and during the second episode I called a friend, told him what was happening and asked him to bring me to the specific hospital that treated my first episode. This was four months after my first occurrence. They ran the same battery of tests and of course found nothing.

The third time it happened I emailed my boss and a couple co-workers to let them know I wouldn't be at work during the TGA event. And yes it was a real event because i remember nothing from that day.

I wanted to post this to let other folks know that at least in my case this condition is more of an inconvenience than anything else. I my certainly modifying my eating and workout routine to preclude it happening again, but the good news also is that for most of us there is probably a predictable cause that we can mitigate. I hope this information has helped you in dealing with it.

Serendip Visitor "doc "'s picture

Awareness of TGA during event

You're lucky to be aware. It sounds like the event is fluctuating. Personally the awareness fluctuates at least while I am coming out of it. My events seem to have resolved with control of temporal lobe seizures on zonisamide. Some have involved falling down and some have not involved any amnesia after falling down.Originally I thought I was passing out.
Different things could trigger a seizure or a migraine and your awareness of them to avoid it may be key . Nevertheless you might consider discussing this with a neurologist with consideration of some medication for temporal lobe epilepsy if there are recurrent events.

Serendip Visitor's picture


I was at church Sunday and then went with friends to a cafe - I was told that at some stage there I couldn't answer questions that I knew the answers for and people thought I was joking. Fortunately there was a nurse amongst my friends. Then I asked the pattern of questions which seems to be common amongst TGA episodes. I wnt to the Emergency Rooms at local hospital where TIA seems to have been at first suspected. I have lost my memory of about three hours on that day. However, I am still feeling as though my my mind is in a fog and something isn't quite right. Ifeel lethargic and have no energy. Wondering how long this lasts?

Serendip Visitor's picture

I would love to hear from people who posted years ago

I would love to hear a follow up on people who posted years ago, to see if anything has progressed or changed with them.

Serendip Visitor's picture

temporary global amnesia

I am 72 years ago and have had two episodes of what I believe to be temporary global amnesia. The first time I was unaware of a memory loss until my husband knew it and then he took me to the emergency room where they ran a cat scan and ultrasound and admitted me overnight. By the next morning my memory was back. That was in 2007.

Yesterday at lunch I again experienced memory loss and as others said it was recent, not long ago events. My husband took me to the emergency room where they did the ekg, cat scan, ultrasound and urine test. They had no diagnosis so I am wondering how the other people who wrote in knew that was what they had. At any rate, that was about noon or so and by evening my memory was almost back to normal. The only thing my husband asked this morning that I was unsure of was the prefix to our telephone number. I am scheduled to see my primary physician who will refer me for further tests that he deems necessary.

Lew G.'s picture

TGA after effects

I was wondering how many others have noticed a significant change in their senses of taste and smell for a period following an 'episode'? I have a distinct change to the point that some of my usual food likes become almost inedible while other tastes become far more palatable.
It is extremely upsetting when I have a TGA 'attack' but after several heart attacks, a heart transplant and other vascular events due to my APS it was not surprising...

Doc's picture

Taste perversion after each TGA event-temporal lobe epilepsy

Take a look a the result of a search for "Merck Manual sensory brain homunculus"
It should show you the drawing of locations for the sensory area of the brain cortex near the temporal
lobe that locates the perception of tongue-taste and where you may be experiencing a recurrent temporal lobe seizure.
The area's neurons are excited and suppressed after the seizure leading to temporary "post-ictal" loss of function or taste disturbance.

As the possible cause of your TGA symptoms,
this temporal seizure theory should be discussed with a neurologist.
There may be effective treatment to prevent the events.
(I have not had more episodes since on zonisamide.)
Good luck!


my tga ?????????

31 hours ago i think it hit me, T.G.A, I am told this is what happened whilst I was on my own. I PHONED MY PARTNER AND TOLD HER, I DO NOT KNOW WHERE I AM ,I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I AM DOING, she has then told me to stay where I am and she will return home.She phoned my daughter and told her about me ,my daughter phoned her partner who then turned up at my house whilst my partner called me back to "check on me" medics where then called who arrived within moments of my possible son in law arriving at my house to let medics in,
I started to regain memories then, about 15-20 mins after my phone call,(I worked all this out by looking at all phone records for said calls and times)
oxygen mask on and green uniformed persons (MEDICS) in my kitchen with monitors attached to me this is my memories of the worst part of my TGA,
72 hours prior to TGA, got very drunk celebrating a birthday with friends.I have very good recovery after drinking alcohol no hangover no pains just dehydration and tiredness.
Today feeling like the day after a good night out with the boys, trying to put a reason to this event (my spellings are not right do not know why) also I have an under active thyroid and have not taken my tablets
(THYROXINE 200mgs daily) for 36 hours.Recent events in my life are very unusual, 3 deaths, brother in law,2 work mates, water leaking into my home and moving out into this house we are at now in, until at least jan/feb 2014, plus a sister who is now a new widow who I am very concerned about.HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEBODY..

Serendip Visitor Ron's picture

TGA for the 4th time

First time driving; made it home from a meeting Second time in living room on couch. third time physically exerting in landscaping. Third time on couch in living room on July 4, 2013. Stress from a legal concern. In a stupor for next 24 hours. Went to Neurologist on first was diagnosed as TGA. Have not gone back. Told me it would probably not happen again. I recognize I am one of the three per centers. First MRI a previous stroke had been seen on report. Never knew I had had. First medical history: Juvenile diabetic since 6 yrs. Walking Heart Attack at 47. dialysis at 48.5 yrs. Pancreas - kidney transplant at 51. Skin cancer periodically since taking Transplant meds. Then TGA diagnosis within last 4 years. I have lost 35 lbs. since Thanksgiving 2012 on purpose. My cardiologist who installed a pacemaker two years ago said less weight would be an advantage. So all in all a TGA is like a temporary reset button for my life. Only concern is what has been expressed here; possible disabling event like Alzheimer or other intellectual or brain dysfunction . My background is that I have two master's degrees and a massage therapy license obtained after the transplant. I need lots of cognitive stimulation. I create my own stress along with what life offers. I have a faith and confidence that there is a One and Only who is aware of every diagnosis that I am only learning about. I also have someone who knows me and loves me anyway to support me in this journey. My wife is extremely supportive with all my "questions" that she tells me are incessant during these episodes. Thanks for sharing your experiences; humor and sobering moments . Headache only on my last experience. I have wondered if it was low blood sugar, medications, stress or just a good sexual experience. It appears no one really knows, not even a nurse when she referred me to a neurologist . Before she gave me their names, she said what did you experience :}

Jaimierae's picture

Multiple episodes of TGA

My father, who is a otherwise healthy 64 year old, has had 8 episodes of TGA within a year. He has had every test and they all come back as TGA. His episodes are textbook, besides the fact that he has had so many. I am wondering if there are others out there who have had multiple episodes of TGA.
Good luck to those dealing with this complex diagnosis. Jaimie

Fellow TGA Sufferer's picture

On my 20th TGA Episode in 2 Years

I am a 60 year old male in excellent health, I work out regularly and am on no medications other than those that are related to my recurring TGA problem. My first episode occurred at work and I was taken to the hospital where after 2 days of testing they diagnosed my problem as a "complex migraine." I had a second episode a couple months later and again went to the hospital with similar results. I now no longer go to the hospital for these episodes but am averaging about one month between them. I am under the treatment of a neurologist who is working with me to stop the recurrence.

My First Advise:

- Try Not to be Afraid! Yes the first one of these is traumatic, but there is no real lasting damage so keep that in mind. Remember you don't have cancer!

Here is What I've Learned:

- I've had so many of these things I now classify them as "Episodes" and "Events." An Event is the actual time when I'm experiencing the TGA symptoms, the Episodes are a period of time where I have related Events (usually less then 48 hours). If you count the individual TGA events, I've actually had more than 30 of those.

- My typical TGA Events typically run about 45 minutes of which 15 or so minutes are actually lost to me completely,and I spend most of the rest of the time gradually recovering my memory. My wife has been present for most of these events and it is pretty humorous that during almost every one of them I ask her the same question "Has this ever happened to me before."

- My TGAs are accompanied by distortions in my sense of smell, chills and hot flashes some time during the episode and a sense of uneasiness.

What Triggers Them:

- I have what I call "spontaneous" events which occur without any obvious triggering event, and my first 3 episodes where of the spontaneous type.

- Since I've started taking medication (a variety by this point), most of my episodes have been triggered by an obvious event. The most common of these is working out within an hour of the time I wake up. In response I've dialed my workouts way down and now I am no longer doing them until later in the day. Caffeine before the workouts may have also contributed.

I've had so many of them now they have become pretty routine:

- The typical pattern is one is "triggered" in the morning and I spend 45 minutes or so in lala land, after which I feel pretty normal and typically go to work and have a pretty normal day (other than the fact that my sense of smell is all screwed up). I go to bed and if I experience chills and hot flashed during the night there is a good chance i will have a second "event" on the following morning with no obvious triggers (I don't work out). After the second TGA eventI go to work again and other than a general unsettled feeling I am pretty normal. Since I started taking medication I almost never have a third TGA event during an episode.

So again I am working with my neurologist to try to figure this whole thing out, but I just wanted to give my fellow TGA suffers some of my experience and hope it gives you some comfort.

Serendip Visitor's picture

TGA episode

I do not have migranes, I workout 5 days a week, 25 lbs overweight, and do not take drugs. I have a Rx for Marijuana which I use 1.2 grams per day when needed. Rarely drink, can't handle more than 3 drinks normally just have one or two. Had a great day on Thursday went to bed looking forward to Friday. Next thing I know I am in the backseat of mom's car on the way to the hospital. Apparently, I made a call at 5:20 to let my husband know I thought I had fallen while sleep walking (occassionally I sleep walk) and my head was hurting. Then I began asking questions over and over. By 9:30 am my family was around me. At the hospital I had a CT w/ contrast and other tests. Nothing was found. Around 11:30 am I began to regain my memory. After leaving the hospital my neck began to hurt. The next day my neck was very stiff. I keep thinking I must have fell because the back of my head hurt as well. Not sure what happened but it was very scary. I had this happen to me before after a car accident when I was 17 years old. It was the same mental experience such as being in a dream like state. I wonder if any of you other suffers are sleepwalkers. I have had that problem my entire life.

Serendip Visitor's picture


I fainted during a biopsy in hospital, when I "came to" a minute or so later, sweating profusely, I did not know why I was there or if the medical procedure was just finished or just beginning. I was questioned by the med. staff repeatedly because they identified this "not knowing" as unusual.
I knew who I was and which hospital I was at but memories based on near term experience were unavailable to me.
At least 15 minutes later I had a strong head ache, feeling pain in the forehead.
I could not remember anything that occured 3 minutes or so after it had occured. I got a CT and MRI of the head and ECG...all negative for problems. After about 36 hrs the problem had cleared and today the un-recallable memories have come back.

As others have remarked the key seems to be a brain blood flow/ dialation problem. Mine was precipitated by Vaso vagel syncope which causes a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Serendip Visitor's picture

recurring memory loss

Good site and I am seeing much of the same in my mother, However....all that has been described is recurring on a 46 to 51 day cycle and I would be greatly interested in any cases that are similiar. We are completely at a loss as to why Mom continues to have these on what seems to be a 45to50 day cycle. A diagnosis of TGA is not particularly what I want to hear but at the least it would be something...rather than the nothing we have from all of the Drs and Hospitals.
Thank you in advance for sharing

Jean McAloon's picture


Last weekend my husband and I took our RV to a dog show in Wilmington, NC. I showed two dogs and my one boy won Winners Dog on Sunday. I do not remember showing him or winning. My husband said I was acting normal until after I got a picture taken with my dog. I said I was dizzy and kept asking to have a picture taken with my dog even though I already had one taken. An ambulance was called and I was taken to the hospital. I don't remember any of this. The show was at 1:00 pm and didn't become aware of anything until 9:00 PM that evening at the hospital. I didn't remember where I was nor that I showed and won with my dog. Gradually I started remember driving there on Friday and showing on Saturday even though it was a little fuzzy on Saturday also. I was given a cat scan, doppler, and a MRI and all showed normal. I was dianosed with Transient Global Amnesia (TGA). I am 69 years old, healthy, not on any medication, lower blood pressure, 5 ft. 7 in. and 140 lbs. I am very active. On my way home from the hospital I thought of one thing and wondered if it had anything to do with the TSA. The trip to Wilmington is about 7 1/2 hours from our house. Most of the time I was reading the electronic book (Kindle). Don't know if the movement of the vehicle and the movement and light from the kindle could have caused the problem or not but worth thinking about and not repeating the action.

Lawrence's picture


I am a 73 year old mail and recently suffered what has been diagnosed as Transient Global Amnesia.I have no medical history of any illness or disease and have been extremely fortunate to have a fairly healthy lifestyle.
On a short holiday to an adventure park with my wife and three Grandkids we were subject to long motorway delays adding 4 hours to our expected journey time of 2 hours and arrived at the park tired and a little weary.After further events to locate our lodge,unpack the car and repark,we made for The Aquatic Centre and engaged with the kids in swimming and playing in the pool.
My eldest Grandaughter asked me to try the Water Tube Slide and we headed up the stairway to the Shute and waited for our turn to enter.As I entered the Shute I was suddenly aware of a tremendous surge and a feeling of being swept away in an uncontrolled action forcing me from one side to the other until eventually dumping me in the pool at the ordinary level.
My wife told me, for I remembered little, that I was asking the same questions" Where are kids "etc over and over and realised I had a problem and called the first aid facility and eventualy they requested an ambulance.All of this was like a distant memory to me and although I slowly got to grips with what was happening I knew I was not quite right.I recall having CONCUSSION as a young footballer and this was in many ways similar to the situation I was experiencing.On my arrival at the hospital I was checked out in The A&E and various checks Bloods,BP,ECG taken.I was admitted to a ward at Midnight.The diagnosis of Transient Global Amnesia was made after a CT Scan and I was discharged having recovered well enough to be driven back home by my son who had arrived to assist his Mother organising the childrens remaining stay.I was given a letter for my GP detailing the diagnosis and I have had clearance from him to carry on as normal without concern of future problems.
I feel OK perhaps a little tired but I suppose if I was looking for "Good News" TGA was as near as I would wish for.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Transient global amnesia

I am a 58-year-old male in very good health.
On July 22, 2012, I had a terrifying but also interesting episode of what was eventually diagnosed as TGA.
I was participating in my 32nd consecutive year of a local triathlon. This triathlon is short by triathlon standards...1/2 mi. swim; 15.5 mi bike and 3.1 mile run. The swim is in a pool and you have to bring a person with you to count your laps. I have gotten good at remembering what lap I am on by repeating it to myself on every breath while swimming. Lap 15(of 18) is the last I remember. I finished the swim, exited the pool, thanked my daughter for counting, and wished her well in her race (she had a later starting time). I exited the pool area to find my bike which was right near the exit. I remember putting on my bike shoes, but nothing else, and have no memory of leaving the pool area or the rest of the swim. The next thing I remember is coming around in the E.R. with about six people around me asking questions which were hard to answer. I thought I had crashed my bike or something. I had wires all over me and an IV in my arm. Someone said "I think he is coming out of it," then more questions and answers they liked better. I was looking at the clock on the wall and realized that I had lost about 4 hours. I kept asking if I finished the race and they kept saying that I had. I only remembered to lap 15 in the swim and putting on bike shoes and little snapshots of riding the bike. As it turned out, I did finish the bike portion, including the many uphills, fast downhills and turns. At the turns they have people to direct you and at the finish, to tell you to dismount your bike and walk it in to the transition area. You have to remember your slot for your bike and to do the run. I just followed the other competitors that had finished the race out of transition and into the event area. About one hour later I wandered into the medical tent and politely said that I might need some help because I didn't know where I was.
After 24 hrs in the hospital and all kinds of tests that came out fine (other than some dehydration....I still had a 2/3 full water bottle when I picked up my bike), still no diagnosis. The excellent E.R.nurse suggested TGA as a possibility and the neurologist got more information and admitted that I was a textbook case.
After three days, I still feel a little off. Not really dizzy, just kind of buzzy, with a few small memory problems. Is this normal after these events? I am not sure about swimming again or how long to take off.

Serendip Visitor  Blair's picture

Caffeine & strenuous exercise.

I had my second TGA episode this morning, just 9 days short of 2 years since the first one. In both cases, I had taken a 200mg caffeine tablet on my way to the gym for a workout. I am not a coffee drinker, so my only routine use of caffeine is iced tea or cola drinks. I have lifted weights off and on for 55 yrs. (I'm 75) and I know that one should take in a good breath of air at the beginning of each repetition when pushing heavy weights. In both cases, I remember the last exercise performed, then nothing for the next hour or so.

The first time my wife was with me and noticed that "I was not right" when I completed one exercise about 5 machines into our routine. She led me to a seating area and quizzed me for the next hour trying to determine my state of awareness. To most questions, I gave the same answer using the same gesture, namely, "I don't remember anything...I don't even know how I got in this chair". I correctly answered such questions as family names, our address and phone number, etc. I had no memory of morning activity prior to the trip to the gym. I starting "coming back" after about an hour, and in a few more hours, I could reconstruct the entire morning in exacting detail including every machine I had used, at what setting, and how many reps...right up until the EVENT.
To this day, however, I have NO recall of the next hour.

This morning's episode was similar, but I was alone, and have no way of knowing anything about my behavior after the last exercise that I performed. Typically, when I finish that machine, I go to the water fountain for a drink and then proceed to another area for some different exercise machines. I do not remember getting any water, nor did I ever make it to the other area. After what I calculated to be about an hour, I realized that I was just sitting in a chair outside the locker room, and had not completed my workout. However, after looking at my watch, I realized that I did not even have time for a shower because it was almost time for me to drive my wife to work. I have only a vague memory of changing into street clothes and leaving the building. I had no difficulty finding my car or driving home.

My reminders for future workouts are:

1. No more No-Doz tablets.
2. Remember to stay hydrated while exercising.
3. Be sure to take in oxygen before each effort, especially those last few tough ones.

My episodes do not particularly scare me, but I can certainly see how they could be problematic, and I hope that I have had my last one.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Transient Global Amnesia and Caffeine

My reason for offering an anecdotal incident is to link my experience with any researcher that might be exploring the topic. My wife, a very healthy and active 59 year female participated in a research experiment two weeks ago in the University of Michigan biology department. Two groups of women were asked to perform aerobic exercises after consuming coffee. All women were given two cups of coffee, one group with caffeine and one group without caffeine. She had an adverse reaction immediately after consuming two cups of caffeinated coffee and short spin on an Exercycle. Immediately after getting off the exercise machine she had a sudden onset of Transient Global Amnesia (TGA). The episode lasted eight hours. After eight hours of short term memory of about 20 seconds, her symptoms resolved over about 20 minutes. During the episode she was in a hospital emergency room, a CT, MRI, blood work, and ultrasound were all negative. We are awaiting an EEG test and neurologist exam. From what I have read about TGA, it is not likely to reoccur. The only diagnosis was TGA, which is sometimes preceded on by extreme exercise. I cannot help but wonder if the caffeine+exercise was related to the episode. Please feel free to contact me if there are other incidents with a similar scenario. I believe there is a causal relationship between exercise, caffeine, and TGA.

michael hackshaw's picture

TGA maybe. You tell me !!!

I live in Trinidad, West Indies. Exactly one year ago I awoke one morning, the day after my son, who is a medical doctor, left to go back to his home in Nova Scotia, and had no memory of the day before. I remembered that he had visited me, but it seemed like a month before. I mention the fact that he had left the day before, because this has happened six times since and always after some 'mildly traumatic' event and always early in the morning. For the next 24 hours, I seem to have a heightened sense of smell and I have to slowly build back memories of the past few days. Long term memory - no problem. On the last occasion two days ago it was pretty harrowing. I awoke at 2:30pm and called my wife who was away for the weekend, 10 times in 90 mins to ask where she was. She had turned off her cellphone and finally called me back at 6:00am. She knew immediately that I had had another occurrence. I have no recollection whatsoever of the phone calls and would not have believed had I not checked my cell phone log.
I am 71 years old, in remarkably good health, slight blood pressure, exercise three times weekly and never had any head injuries. I have had an MRI and EEG recently and both showed very little that would be considered unusual at my age. Apart from the memory loss there are absolutely no other health problems.
Your site seems to offer the best hope of finding someone with similar symptoms and hopefully advice
Mike H

Peter 's picture


i recently had an episode , nearly run over by truck at work and realised at the last second i was there but did not know how i got there, i am still feeling affects of it ie slowness in walking more of a shuffle ,,, lack of interested not listenening more like of with the fairies ,, staring at nothing ,,, talking to myself ,,, run out of energy during the day ,, still having tests which makes it worse not knowing

Vince Massey's picture

I finally figured it out by

I finally figured it out by placing questions in web search. TGA. What on earth! Some background. My wife and I were busy on couple of days ago preparing our trailer for closing and afterwards we went to get our boat from the marina and take it to a boat service/storage location all in the afternoon. I hooked up the boat trailer, drove down the hill to the marina. Parked the the truck and trailer, took a short walk of 5 minutes to get the boat in the well. Drove the boat around the marina to get to the ramp. From my current memory I remember getting the boat moving, don't remember getting the boat to the ramp, then I remember docking the boat and giving my wife the rope to hang on to the boat. Remember walking to the car and trailer. Do not remember backing boat trailer into the water and getting the boat on the trailer, remember pulling the boat out of the water and parking the rig to complete the securing. The next 90 minutes a complete blank, driving the rig to a boat shop, parking in the lot, talking to the owner of what work to be done and then proceed to drive home from there. One hour drive home complete blank. As I neared our home, some 4 blocks away I started to realize I was near home. Everything was in snippets from a movie - piece meal! My wife was very frightened - as I kept repeating the same questions to her (I have no memory of that).Went to bed, next day Ok but frightened as to what happened. Searched the net and up came TGA. I am 72 years old and feel fine one day after. Sept., 29 2011. Scary as hell!

ANNA's picture



E Williams's picture


The posts by two people that they had taken Fosamax on the morning of their TGA episodes gave me an "AHA!" moment. I had taken Actonel from 2003 thru mid-May 2010, and switched to generic Fosamax the week before my own TGA episode. On that morning I had taken a generic Fosamax,(took my first one the week before); took my usual 30-minute walk, drank some coffee, told my husband I was not feeling well, lay down, and "came to" about l:30 pm in the hospital. A CT scan, MRI and EKG revealed no problems, and the neurologist said I had a TGA and would probably never have another(had never heard of this before). Later research on my part revealed there is some conjecture they are caused by migraines. I have never had a real migraine, but for the preceding two years I had periodic episodes of zig-zag lines appearing in my vision (this happened once every two months or so) and my opthamologist said those were called "opthalmic
migraines" and did not seem concerned about it.

I am very sensitive to medications (the only meds I now take are for mild hypertension). I quit taking the generic Fosamax immediately. I also quit taking calcium supplements. I feel better than I have in years - I am 72 and an active gardener, golfer,walker, cook. In past years I have had aches and pains in my upper back, neck, and into my head, lower back, hips, leg cramps, tingling in my right hand and fingers, etc., and have spent a lot of money on chiropractic adjustments, which really helped. However,I have not had any aches or pains or tingling for a year and have not found it necessary to go to my chiropractor for a year!!! And have not had an opthalmic migraine or any problem with my head or eyes - I read without glasses and use them only for driving. Have made some adjustments to my diet (I do not eat proteins and carbohydrates at the same meal), my blood pressure has come down (I still take meds for that), but am convinced that the Actonel and generic Fosamax were affecting my overall health, with the Fosamax triggering the TGA. This is my personal opinion and is not based on medical opinion. If I do have another TGA and find this to be incorrect, I will post again.

sean mcclaren's picture


Hi in have just been realeased from hospital today after my first episode of what the doctor called TGA .I had been to the gym but did not have a hard workout,i dont remember leaving the gym driving home or indeed being taken to the hospital.i did have in the last week or so have a migraine headache,nothing unusual there i had been suffering migraines since i was a teenager but over the years they had been episode lasted for about 12 hours and i could not remember anything that happened in the past 4 months or so but during the evening and morning those things come back but i still have lost a couple of hours.It worries me that it can happen again even though the doctors say it only happens in about 10% of cases.I have still the remains of a headache that reminds me a long night out on the town,not much sleep has happened in the last 24 hours and look forward to a good nights sleep.

Multiple episodes's picture

Multiple episodes

It seems that many of these instances are one or two time experiences. My mother has had multiple ones starting 17 years ago when my mother was 43. There have been many triggers including physical exercise, emotional stress (children being in JD, death, moving etc…) and even a strobe light during a show sparked an occurrence. Some have led her to the hospital for a few days while the ones more recently are smaller and will go away after a few hours. I am concerned that I am already showing signs of this as well. Is it genetic? Is there a way to feel them coming on? How odd is it to have the occurrences so many times and over so many years? What studies are going on about TGA? Answers welcome – Charlie September 2010

Doc's picture

Strobe lights are used during

Strobe lights are used during EEG (brain wave) tests to precipitate the abnormality of seizures. Recurrent episodes like that do sound like frontal lobe seizure to me, and might respond to anticonvulsants used for temporal lobe seizure disorder. Seeing an epilepsy specialist would be a good idea. See my previous posts; I am not a nuerologist.

Rick Cameron's picture

TGA in Bali

I am so glad I found this website. It has answered so many questions for me. I'm 61 and pretty fit. My partner tells me I sit around too much but I still get out surfing and walking a lot. Our house in Padang is on top of a mountain so walking means hard work.

My first ever TGA attack happened yesterday. I've lost about 15 minutes to half an hour as best I can work it out. We had great sex in the morning, then on an empty stomach (maybe a mistake?) I went surfing just a 10 minute walk from the house we are working on in Bali. We are supervising a new villa here and taking a break at the same time.

I was in the surf and chatting to other surfers... catching waves and enjoying myself as I had not been in the water for over a month. My next memory is that I was back on the beach with my body board under my arm and my fins in one hand wondering where I was and how I got there. It was fundamentally frightening .....not in a life threatening way but deeper than that... like being in a dream but conscious (I kept pinching myself to be sure). I worked out where I was ... in Bali and roughly where in Bali but had no idea that I was living up the road. After about half an hour of sitting and considering options a few things came back to me. I had money in my pocket and thought about making some calls to my partner to get help. I thought that I may have had a stroke or some such. I also thought that I may have died and be in some kind of parallel universe afterlife. That was the real fear... that I would not be able to go back.

After 30 minutes (it may have been a hour) I recognized the cafe were I had left my sandals. I picked them up and got my bearings enough to wander up the road. I found our gate and my partner at work with the builders... It took another hour of talking and sitting to get most of my context back... who was who and what I was doing in Bali. No headache, no other symptoms at all.

Thanks again for this website. I will be following it!

JUDY's picture


I, a 65.7 year old female, healthy condition, experienced a TGA(as was diagnosed) yesterday while at the local club working out, or at least I thought I was working out. The working out part has not as yet been confirmed. My last recall was entering the club, showing my ID card,stowing my bag in the locker, weighting myself, pleased with the findings, from that point on nothing. I apparently called my son who was at home(39 times) to come pick me up. I told him I felt as though I was in a dream and could not find my car. My husband check the phone records it showed I had started the phone calling at 7AM, every 1 to 2 minutes until 8:45 AM when my son answered. (I would normally phone him on his cell phone.) I also told him people were looking at me strangely. My son said I came out of the club as normal but confused, he phoned my husband at work. My husband took me to the ER where a battery of tests were done. My day was uneventful as I remember nothing for many hours. I awoke yesterday morning with many plans to accomplish a great deal after my workout. I felt great. My next memory was sitting in our office at home trying to recap the day as to what was happening. I did not understand why my husband was home so early in the day. My questions were repetitive. I have no recall of the entire morning and little fuzzy recall after that at the ER. Later in the afternoon my recall returned. I was kept in the hospital overnight for observation. This morning I awoke in the hospital feeling fine and cognizant of the current happenings. Since I have been home, napped in my own bed, I am feeling somewhat dizzy and disoriented as if I have arrived from one of my very long flights to India or China which I do regularly. This is a strange phenomena. It is as though the sun, moon and earth rotation ceased for the 6 or so hours of yesterday. It has no recall to my memory. I have been attempting to read the writings here and make some sense. The Doc seems to think there will be no reoccurring of this happening. It seems to me after reading the writings that this may rear its head again. Since I travel extensively to many far, far away lands it concerns me. I do not drink, smoke, use drugs. I am not prone to headaches, all is in order for a healthy body. I work out regularly and have a wonderful family with little stress. My son is preparing to leave for a military career which will be exciting for him. My older son has been blessed with #2 baby boy. How much better could life be. I did come home from China, maybe 2 weeks ago, with laryngitis. I had no voice for 3 days. This is the fist this has happened to me. My family Doc gave me some antibiotics which I finished the morning 2 days ago. The ER Doc said this would not be a cause.?? I am really new into this and searching for answers. This writing is hopefully going to make sense. I will check it tomorrow to see if what I have written is ok. I see no new writings have been entered for quite some time. In any event I will send it so it will be on file.

Serendip Visitor's picture

What About AFTER the Episode?

I'm a 61 year old active female, good health, no meds. My TGA episode came during a vigorous workout in the gym following a very stressful two years at a responsible job I'd just been laid off from, and the death of my father following two years of decline, family chaos, in-home caregiving on the part of my mother. I guess it was a perfect storm.

But while there's lots of articles and posts about the what and why, I want to know if others, like me (four weeks after hospitalization, tests and diagnosis of TGA) , are experiencing the feeling of slogging through jello, low energy, sleeping often during the day and just not back to my normal high energy self. I'm not depressed but not peppy either. Some days my only activity is going to the grocery store and I seem to be okay with that and not putting pressure on myself to "do something." I'm lucky to be unemployed at the moment and can stay that way for another 3-4 months. I feel like I'm in some recouperating mode and I hope it's normal but I can't find anything on what emotional and physical experiences people are having post-TGA. I'm back at the gym but a little cautious of over-doing it and I tire easily.

Is this normal?

Wendy's picture


Hi, So glad someone addressed the AFTER of TGA.I have had three episodes and afterwards for at least two weeks I am very very tired and weak.I also experience being unbalanced feeling -not dizzy but imbalanced. Also feeling like you being in a state of recovery,and slow on catching on to fast conversations.Before each episode I have been outside trimming trees and shrubs or doing some work not often done but wouldnt have thought too strenuous.Iam wondering too, if it hasnt got something to do with the jugular vein and lack of blood to the brain.Would be interested to hear back from you.

Linda J White's picture


On Sunday morning I was sitting in the church office when a lady walked in. From then until about 5 hours later, I have no recollection. I was told she wore a strong perfume which immediately caused a migraine headache, I began having trouble breathing and was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital. I have absolutely no memory of those hours although I was told that I never passed out. The fuzziness lasted until the next day around 2 p.m. A total 28 hours. When I did awake everything was back to normal except the memory of those five hours.

My doctor diagnosed the problem almost immediately.

I have a long history of cluster migraines, but had been nearly free of them for about twenty years.
My oldest daughter experiences the same migraines that I had. We have both been through long exhaustive studies with different hospitals and doctors.

We both believe that smells will bring on attacks. After the headache begins, light and noise aggravate the pain and we become totally incapacitated, sometimes for five or six days.

I have been on thyroid medication for many years.