Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary shaking or trembling of the hands, head, voice, or other body parts. It is the most common movement disorder, affecting an estimated 10 million people in the United States alone. Essential tremor is often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease, but it is a distinct condition with its own symptoms and causes.
The most common symptom of essential tremor is shaking or trembling hands, which can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as writing, eating, or using tools. The tremors may also affect the head, voice, or other body parts and may worsen with movement or stress. In some cases, essential tremor may cause balance problems or difficulty walking.
The exact cause of essential tremor is unknown, but it is believed to be related to abnormal activity in certain brain areas. Essential tremor may sometimes be inherited, and it is more common in older adults. Other factors contributing to essential tremor include alcohol use, caffeine consumption, and stress.
Essential tremor is diagnosed based on a physical exam, medical history, and other tests such as blood, imaging, or neurological tests to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. In some cases, a medication trial may be used to confirm the diagnosis of essential tremor.
Essential tremor has no cure, but several treatments can help manage the symptoms. Medications such as beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, and tranquilizers may be used to reduce tremors. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to implant a device to help control tremors. Lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, getting enough sleep, and managing stress may also help reduce tremors.
Essential tremor can be a frustrating and challenging condition to live with, but many resources are available to help manage the symptoms. Support groups, online forums, and educational materials can provide information and support for people with essential tremor and their families. Occupational and physical therapy may also help learn new ways to perform everyday tasks.
Essential tremor is a common movement disorder that can cause significant disability and impact quality of life. While there is no cure for essential tremor, many treatments are available to help manage the symptoms. As a result, people with essential tremor can lead full and active lives with the proper care and support.