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6 Ways People With HIV Can Lower Their Risk of Memory Loss

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    How HIV Affects Your Brain

    If you're HIV-positive, it's important to take steps to keep your brain healthy. That’s because the virus can cause neurological changes that may eventually lead to memory loss. In one June 2019 study inNeurology, more than half of the participants experienced neurological problems within 12 weeks of being diagnosed with HIV.

    One reason for that could be the effect of HIV on the immune system, which can make you susceptible to other infections and lead to memory problems, says Igor J. Koralnik, MD, a neurologist who specializes in the care of people with HIV and who chairs the neurological sciences department at Rusk University Medical Center in Chicago. The virus may also cause inflammation, which can cause long-term brain damage. And, in extreme cases, people in the late stages of HIV can develop dementia. However, following an HIV treatment plan and taking certain preventative steps can help lower your risk of memory loss. 

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    Get on Antiretroviral Therapy

    The most important step is to start antiretroviral therapy soon after being diagnosed, says Dr. Koralnik. Antiretroviral therapy is a combination of medications taken every day that helps prevent the HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from multiplying, according to AIDS.gov. This keeps your immune system stronger. In theNeurologystudy, most neurological symptoms went away after a month of starting treatment. 

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    Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

    HIV is a condition that can have a detrimental effect on the brain — and issues like substance use, abuse, and dependence can make you even more likely to experience memory loss later on, Koralnik says. Be sure to avoid alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

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    Take Care of Yourself

    Eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight are important for everyone, but it’s especially true if you have HIV, Koralnik says. Focusing on good nutrition and keeping your mind and body active was shown to have a positive effect on memory and other cognitive performance among older adults, according to a study of 1,260 people published in July 2014 inAlzheimer’s & Dementia. Because of the increased risk for memory issues, people with HIV can benefit from healthy lifestyle choices.

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    Exercise Your Brain

    Just as physical exercise is important to the brain and body, practicing mentally stimulating activities may also help your brain function better and slow cognitive decline, says Brendan Kelley, MD, a neurologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Activities like working on puzzles, gardening, reading, or doing odd jobs may be beneficial. “There’s not a specific regimen that’s been shown to be better than others,” he says. Challenging the brain in new ways may give you a bigger mental boost, although high-quality studies have not yet proven that to be true. 

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    Consider Memory Apps

    It’s unclear whether memory games and apps are effective at lowering your risk for memory loss because they haven’t been studied in people with HIV, but Koralnik says playing them wouldn’t hurt. However, don’t substitute these games for other proven ways to keep your brain healthy, such as taking HIV medication and avoiding drug and alcohol abuse. 

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    Turn to Memory Aids

    If you do notice your memory beginning to slip, there are strategies that can help you manage, Dr. Kelley advises. Some ways to do this include keeping a detailed calendar, relying on lists as reminders of what needs to be done, and keeping phone numbers of your loved ones, neighbors, doctors, and emergency contacts handy.






Video: Some Ways You Can Contract HIV and Their Risks

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Date: 11.12.2018, 07:00 / Views: 65151