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What are the Different Essential Tremor Symptoms?

By Carey Reeve
Updated May 17, 2024
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Essential tremor symptoms can appear to be similar to those of other neurological conditions. They are actually different, however, because they get more noticeable when a person is trying to perform actions that use the affected muscles. Shaking and trembling that often begins in the hands and can involve the head and voice are typical essential tremor symptoms. Tremors can be caused by many conditions, and those conditions need to be ruled out before a diagnosis of benign essential tremor can be reached. Some medications can help to lesson essential tremor symptoms, but they are usually only used when the tremors are pronounced enough that they interfere with daily activities.

Tremors that occur due to essential tremor disorder can cause head shaking or nodding, facial muscle twitches, weak or shaky voice and trembling in one or both hands. These essential tremor symptoms tend to begin around middle age and gradually get worse as time passes and can get more severe during times of high stress or fatigue. Caffeine, taking certain medications, or even extreme weather temperatures can also worsen essential tremor symptoms. Unlike tremors that occur in cases of Parkinson’s disease, for example, essential tremors usually worsen with movement and are unnoticeable when resting. Essential tremor is not considered a dangerous disorder and usually causes no ill effects on overall health, but it can be passed genetically from one generation to the next.

Many other ongoing disorders and short term conditions can cause tremors other than essential tremor or Parkinson’s. These include withdrawal from alcohol, overuse of caffeine, hyperthyroidism, cigarette smoking, and Wilson’s disease. Blood and urine tests as well as imaging tests like computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain can be used to rule out these other issues and ensure that the tremors being experienced are benign.

Essential tremor symptoms can cause problems in everyday activities like writing, eating, drinking, and even getting dressed and maintaining hygiene. If these symptoms become pronounced enough that they impair quality of life or caused significant embarrassment, they may be treated with medication like Primidone or Propranolol. Both of these medications work to regulate the function of neurotransmitters. Some other medications that can be generally helpful in treating essential tremor symptoms include calcium channel blockers that are usually used to control blood pressure, mild tranquilizers, and anti-seizure drugs. In some cases, Botox can be injected to stop localized tremors.

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