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Essential Tremor- Symptoms, Cause, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Essential Tremor- Symptoms, Cause, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Essential tremor is a neurological condition in which your hands tremble in a rhythmic pattern. Continue reading the article below to learn more about it.

Written by

Dr. Shikha

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Abhishek Juneja

Published At August 10, 2022
Reviewed AtOctober 24, 2023

What Is Essential Tremor (ET)?

Essential tremor is a neurological condition that presents with tremors, most commonly in the hands and arms. A tremor is a rhythmic, uncontrollable movement of a physical body part, and it is characterized by uncontrollable shaking or trembling of the affected area.

Essential tremor is frequently confused with Parkinson's disease, but the two diseases are distinct in several respects. An essential tremor is an action tremor, which means that when you do some movement and try to use your hands, the uncontrollable shaking gets worse. Tremors are most noticeable at rest in Parkinson's disease, and an activity alleviates the symptoms. Only a few patients with Parkinson's disease suffer head shaking or nodding, whereas it is commonly seen as a result of essential tremors. Balance issues, arm and leg rigidity are common symptoms of Parkinson's disease but not essential tremors.

What Are the Symptoms of Essential Tremor?

Essential tremor is a condition associated with a wide range of symptoms. The age of onset, progression, tremor distribution, and intensity of tremor can all differ significantly from one person to the next.

  • Tremor is a common symptom of essential tremor, and it manifests itself as uncontrollable shaking or trembling of the hands or arms. Tremors of the hands or arms might occur on their own in some circumstances. Both hands or arms are usually afflicted, albeit one side of the body is usually more affected than the other. Tremor is most commonly caused by people attempting to produce voluntary motions (kinetic tremor). Simple actions such as pouring a drink, drinking from a cup, using utensils, tying shoelaces, drawing, or writing are examples of such movements. Tremors can affect the head (including the neck), voice, jaw, and tongue.

  • Some people who are affected also have a problem coordinating voluntary movements (ataxia), which affects the muscles in their legs. This can result in an awkward or uncoordinated walking style (abnormal gait).

  • Hearing loss and mild olfactory dysfunction have also been described. Non-motor symptoms manifest themselves more frequently in essential tremor patients than in general. Cognitive deficiencies, personality changes, and sadness are examples of such symptoms. Individuals at an older age of onset of the condition appear to be more likely to develop cognitive impairment.

  • Individuals with essential tremors are also prone to postural tremors. A postural tremor happens when a person tries to keep a steady position against gravity, such as when holding a cup with arms outstretched in front of their body.

  • Essential tremor is frequently linked to a wide range of social and psychological repercussions. The disease can make it challenging to carry out daily tasks and can significantly impact a person's quality of life. Because of their anxiety and irritation, people who are affected may avoid social or unpleasant settings. Certain medications, caffeine, and stress can exacerbate your tremors.

What Are the Causes of Essential Tremor?

Essential tremor has no recognized etiology. According to one proposition, the cerebellum and other regions of the brain might not be functioning and coordinating correctly, and as the cerebellum is in charge of motor coordination, it can cause tremors.

The disease appears to be handed down from parent to child in the majority of cases as an autosomal dominant feature. It is a condition where just one copy of a defective gene is required for the disease to manifest; however, different routes of inheritance are increasingly being investigated. The impaired gene can be inherited from either parent or be caused by a new mutation in the affected person. Regardless of the sex of the resulting child, the risk of transferring the faulty gene from the affected parent to children is fifty percent for each pregnancy. If one set of parents has an essential tremor condition, there is a fifty percent risk that the offspring may inherit the gene that causes the disease.

How Is Essential Tremor Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of essential tremor is made based on the presence of specific symptoms, a complete patient history, and a thorough clinical examination. Essential tremor cannot be diagnosed using a specific test, and to rule out other possible causes of tremor, a neurological exam and additional testing may be performed.

The patient should consult a skilled neurologist if they are experiencing symptoms of essential tremor. The doctor will ask questions about the patient’s health, their family's medical history, any medications they are taking, and any procedures they have had during the evaluation. The evaluation will also be useful in determining whether any circumstances aggravate or ease the tremor. The doctor will conduct a comprehensive examination, noting the parts of the body that are affected by tremor, when it occurs, and whether any other symptoms could indicate a movement problem other than ET. Imaging studies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans do not help to identify essential tremors, but they can help phase-out other possibilities.

How Is Essential Tremor Treated?

Essential tremor has no cure, but the symptoms can be controlled in a variety of ways, beginning with the practical steps like:

  • Practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing exercises, or biofeedback.

  • Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided.

  • Trying to stay away from stressful circumstances.

  • Consult the doctor to see if any of the medications you're taking are causing your tremors to get worse.

Medication and surgical intervention are two of the most common therapies for essential tremors.

  • Medications- Tremors are best treated with Propranolol and Primidone. Excessive blood pressure and anxiety during sports are treated using the beta-blocker, Propranolol. Slow heartbeat, tiredness, and shortness of breath are some of the mild to moderate adverse effects. Propranolol should not be used by anyone who has asthma. Drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and dizziness are some of the mild-to-moderate side effects of Primidone, an anti-seizure medicine. Both of these medications can lessen tremors by up to half.

A few more medications may aid with essential tremor treatment, but the evidence is not as solid. The beta-blockers, Atenolol and Sotalol, as well as the anti-seizure medications, Gabapentin and Topiramate, are among them.

  • Surgery- If medicine fails to alleviate essential tremors, surgery may be an option. Surgery is always dangerous, but it is extremely dangerous when it involves the brain. Thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation are the two most well-studied surgical treatments for severe limb tremor that has not responded to medicines. Both methods can help with limb tremors, but not with head shaking or a quavering voice.


Even though essential tremor is not a life-threatening condition, it can be quite unpleasant for those who suffer from it. Some essential tremor patients may feel compelled to isolate themselves from family and friends, but avoiding social situations is not advised. In addition to doctor-prescribed therapies, practical tips help persons with essential tremors continue active social lives. Maintaining mental and physical well-being requires remaining socially active.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Essential Tremor Caused By?

The exact cause of essential tremor is not yet fully known. Some studies show that it can be caused by mild degeneration in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is part of the brain that controls movements. There can be some medications that can cause tremors in some people.


Can Essential Tremor Go Away?

No, essential tremor is a permanent condition; it does not go away permanently. Easing or improving the symptoms' management is simple. Avoiding or limiting alcohol and caffeine, and some lifestyle modifications can help to ease the condition.


What Is the Best Treatment for Essential Tremors?

There is no complete cure for essential tremors. But they can be managed using some lifestyle modifications and medicines. Medications that work best for essential tremors include beta blockers and ani-epileptic drugs.


Is Essential Tremor Caused by Anxiety?

Anxiety can cause mild tremors even in some normal people. People with essential tremors can feel that their tremors are more pronounced while anxious. In fact, any movement disorders can be exacerbated by anxiety, although it might not exactly be the definite cause.


How Do You Calm Tremors Naturally?

Though there is no cure for the condition, there are ways to manage them. Avoiding or limiting caffeine and alcohol can help a lot in calming tremors. Meditation, yoga, and similar activities help in relaxing the mind. Lifestyle modifications can also help to ease the condition.


Should I See a Neurologist for Essential Tremors?

Yes, consulting a neurologist is recommended for essential tremors. The neurologist will ask questions on the family history, medical condition, lifestyle, any medications that are taken regularly, or any surgical history. They will be able to help in modifying lifestyle and medications if required to ease the condition.


Is Essential Tremor a Mental Illness?

Essential tremor is a common neurological condition. It is a movement disorder characterized by uncontrollable tremors in the hands and legs while standing still or trying to do something. It can also affect the way one talks, or how one walks.


What Exercises Help Tremors?

Yes, exercise can help to manage tremors. Weight-bearing exercises can help us to work against gravity and strengthen muscles. Weight-lifting exercises like planks and push-ups can help to improve a person’s steadiness and reduce involuntary tremors.


What Foods Reduce Tremors?

The Mediterranean diet is the best diet that helps to reduce essential tremors. This diet includes vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, etc. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated are essential. Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol.


What Vitamin Deficiency Is a Tremor?

Vit.D deficiency can cause movement disorders like essential tremors. The Mediterranean diet includes vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, fish, etc. It is the best diet that helps to reduce essential tremors. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated are essential.


What Is the Best Fruit for Tremors?

The GABAergic diet includes food in glutamic acids like soy protein, fermented yogurt, spinach, sweet potato, orange, and other citrus fruits, etc. They can help to improve essential tremors and ease the symptoms. Consuming food like bananas and dragon fruits, which are rich in magnesium can help to ease the tremors.


Is Essential Tremor Serious?

Essential tremor is not a serious or dangerous condition. However, it can get worse as the patient ages. Though there is no exact cure for the condition, the symptoms can be managed by lifestyle modifications and medications.
Dr. Abhishek Juneja
Dr. Abhishek Juneja



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