Is there a drug I can take to improve my memory? DR MARTIN SCURR answers your health questions

I am 81 years old and in good health, but my short-term memory is not good. Are there any medications I can take?

David Woods, by email.

Short-term memory problems are usually a normal part of aging, but they can also be a sign of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

This is the state between normal mental capacity and dementia. More than a quarter of people around your age — ages 80 to 84 — will have MCI, according to a review of 34 studies published by the American Academy of Neurology in 2018.

Some of them will develop dementia, but there are steps you can take to minimize brain function deterioration.

MCI is diagnosed with a series of tests to check if your memory and thinking skills are below normal for someone your age. It may also involve a brain scan.

Short-term memory problems are usually a normal part of aging, but they can also be a sign of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) [File photo]

Diagnosis can be a complex process because there are no standard tests, so it’s hard to say what is “normal.”

Those at the highest risk have risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, a history of stroke or heart disease, and low mood.

Whether you have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or not, the treatment is the same.

But unfortunately, no medication has been proven to help – be it conventional medicines or herbal and nutritional supplements.

However, addressing risk factors is essential. This includes looking at medications that can impair cognitive function. If you are taking benzodiazepines (eg diazepam), anticholinergic antidepressants (eg amitriptyline), antihistamines (eg chlorphenamine) or opioids (eg codeine) this should be reviewed by your GP to see if they can be stopped.

Diagnosis Can Be A Complex Process Because There Are No Standard Tests, So It'S Hard To Say What Is

Diagnosis can be a complex process because there are no standard tests, so it’s hard to say what is “normal.” [File photo]

The focus is then on taking care of yourself. Make sure you sleep well – sleep is the time when the brain clears out waste products that accumulate during waking hours and are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise is also important. In a number of small studies, exercise has been shown to improve both immediate and delayed memory.

Even a daily walk, as much as you can manage on a regular basis, will have a beneficial effect.

My partner has had cysts in his testicles for several years. He had surgery, but they came back. They are not painful, but should they be checked with regular scans?

Name and address provided.

What you are describing are epididymal cysts – harmless, fluid-filled growths.

They can vary in number (some men have only one nodule, while others have a cluster of several cysts, either in the scrotum or testicles) and size (some grow to 2 cm or more).

They develop in the epididymis, a coiled tube that lies at the exit of each testicle. Its job is to transport and store sperm cells so that they can mature. It is not clear why these cysts form. One theory is that they could be caused by inflammation following an infection, or they could be due to some kind of developmental defect.

Although epididymal cysts are relatively common, it can be understandable that when you find them it can cause alarm, with fears that it could be testicular cancer. And men are generally advised to get ultrasounds to check them out.

If there are multiple cysts, they are usually removed in a short procedure performed as a day hospitalization (in some cases, they may then recur).

But rest assured, these cysts do not become malignant or infected. A regular follow-up scan is therefore not necessary. However, I would always encourage men to check themselves regularly and see their GP if they find a new lump that concerns them.

My advice to your partner is to accept the current state of affairs – he will only need to have further surgery if the recurrent cysts become a problem due to their size and girth.

Write to Dr. Scurr

Write to Dr Scurr at Good Health, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London, W8 5HY or email uk — add your contact details. Answers should be taken in a general context and always consult your own GP if you have any health concerns.

In my opinion… Double standards from gyms selling junk food!

One of the UK’s major gym chains is run by a national organization that is actually a healthcare charity.

The goal – to build a healthier nation – is a noble intention. So why is there a large display of super-sized bags of chips for sale at the entrance of my branch? And why is there a machine in the Glasgow branch that sells Coke, a flavored sugar solution?

Sugar has no nutritional value and is widely accepted as a cause of increasing obesity. If a gym must have a place to eat, at least open a cafe that is committed to food choices.

Gyms need to stop these double standards and end the hypocrisy of putting exercise machines and junk food in the same environment.

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